If you’re going to wait two-dozen years to win a district title, then you might as well do it in style.
That’s exactly what the Orchard View boys basketball team did Friday night on its home court in a dramatic 55-53 victory over Spring Lake in Division 2 action.
With the final seconds ticking off the clock in a tie game and Orchard View holding for a final shot, Ke’ontae Barnes lost the ball momentarily against the Spring Lake defense.
Barnes recovered, however, and he drove toward the lane from the right wing. He fired a pass to the left block for Edmari Mitchell, who corralled the basketball and put it up off the high glass and through the hoop with 2.1 seconds left.
It set off a wild celebration, but hold up: Spring Lake coach Bill Core alertly called timeout, and his Lakers were able to set up one last look for a potential game-winner.
Skilled 6-foot-7 forward Lucas Lyyski caught a baseball pass, took a couple dribbles and launched a shot from just inside halfcourt. The shot was partially blocked and fell short. The horn sounded, the Cardinals’ Davion Lane spiked the basketball in jubilation and, finally, the celebration could commence.
Orchard View’s season has had a lot of ups and some downs, but now the Cardinals (15-7) are headed for the regionals. They will face powerhouse Grand Rapids Catholic Central (20-2) in at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a regional semifinal at Fremont.
“With our guys, the cool thing I love about our team is that we are going to play hard,” OV coach Nick Bronsema said. “They know they’re going to have a team that’s going to come in and we’re not going to sit back. We’re going to play hard, and we’re just going to see what happens. We know they’re incredibly talented – they made it to the Breslin (last year).”
Barnes, a 6-foot sophomore guard, recorded the game-winning assist, but he carried the scoring load for most of the night. He got off to a hot start, hitting six of Orchard View’s eight first-half 3-pointers as the Cardinals built a 35-24 lead at the break. Barnes finished with a team-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Lane added nine points and five rebounds for OV, which started the season 7-0 but lost four of its next five once the calendar flipped to 2019.
“We have a lot of fight in us and even though we were losing games, we were right there,” Bronsema said. “We were always right there at one point. It was never a blowout. It was never a game where we didn’t have a chance this year. Fremont was the closest thing to do, I would say maybe if any, that game. But, truthfully, the cool thing about our guys is they’re fighters.”
Core’s Lakers were battlers, too, even though their final record (6-16) may not reflect it.
Spring Lake lost nine games by seven or fewer points. The Lakers had won five of their last six district-title games entering Friday’s contest.
Senior Sam Negen led Spring Lake with a career-high 33 points. He is among five seniors, whom the Lakers will bid farewell. The others include Kyle Wiersma, Noah Verlinde, Tristan VanDerHeide and Zach Foster.
Orchard View has only three seniors – Lane, Brady Bowen and Dietrich Thornton – but Bronsema said a switch has flipped for those guys.
“What really has changed is, the seniors have really taken it upon themselves to work together. Instead of working to figure out themselves, they’re working to figure out each other. And it’s been really apparent, and it’s spreading like wildfire,” Bronsema said. “Our guys are sharing the ball, and they’re understanding if somebody is playing really well, we’re going to get that guy the ball. It’s important that, if we want to win, we have to play a certain way.”