Local Sports Journal

The drought is over for the Western Michigan Christian boys basketball team.

A near 20-year losing streak on the floor of the Tri-unity Christian Defenders came to a halt on Saturday night as the Warriors escaped with a 40-33 victory.

Defender coach Mark Keeler, who won his 500th game earlier this season, said the last time the Defenders lost to the Warriors on their home court was about 1995.

On Saturday night, the Warriors broke open a 20-all halftime score by scoring 12 straight points in the third quarter. WMC also used a stifling defense the entire second half that limited the hosts to 13 points.

“We look at the conference championship banners and they’ve won our conference a lot of years,” WMC coach Kyle Mastenbrook said. “We haven’t won here in a while so it’s a huge win for us as a team.”

Senior Bernard Smith led the charge with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Jacob Ray finished with nine points, eight of which came in the pivotal third quarter. Ray, a junior, bagged a pair of 3-pointers to ignite the Warrior offense and push the lead to 32-23 after three quarters.

Derrick Holt came off the bench and played a strong game. He finished with six points. Alex Rop had three assists while drawing the assignment of guarding Defender sharpshooter Nick Klaassen, who finished with eight points on one 3-pointer and five free throws. Aaron Christiansen and David Possehl each had eight points.

“It was a slower paced game, a low-scoring game,” Mastenbrook said. “It was slowed down by spending a lot of time at the free-throw line. We fouled way too much.

“It’s a tough place to play here,” Mastenbrook said. “They play physical defense, they play tough defense. We played some defense.”

WMC is 4-1, 2-0 in the River Valley. Tri-unity is 4-3, 0-1 in the league.


Alex Rop 0 1-2 1, Jared Varnado 0 0-3 0, James Godwin 1 0-1 2, Jacob Ray 3 1-2 9, Bernard Smith 8 5-7 21, Devin Eekhoff 0 1-2 1, Derrick Holt 1 4-8 6. Totals 13 12-25 40.

Aaron Christensen 3 1-2 8, David Possehl 3 1-2 8, Javier Cuevas 0 3-4 3, Jacob Nelson 1 0-0 2, Nathan Schau 1 2-3 4, Nick Klaassen 1 5-8 8. Totals 9 12-19 33.

WMC 7 – 13 – 12 – 8 – 40
TU 10 – 10 – 3 – 10 – 33

3-pointers: Ray (2), Christenson, Possehl, KIaassen. Fouled out: Nelson. Technicals: WMC bench. JV: Tri-unity won.