Ramblers expect to duplicate last year’s success

November 29, 2018

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Last winter was pretty special for the McBain boys basketball team. The Ramblers claimed a 19-4 record and won Highland Conference and district championships, before ultimately falling to eventual class ‘C’ state runner-up Glen Lake in regionals. As far as 25th year head coach Bruce Koopman is concerned, McBain could be in store for another great run this year.

“I really believe this team has the necessary experience, size, athleticism and basketball smarts to have a special season,” Koopman said. “They are a dedicated group of young men and know that with hard work anything is possible, especially if the young players can get up to speed and handle the physical part of the game.”

Back from last year’s team are seniors Justin Kamphouse (guard), Garrett VerBerkmoes (center, forward), Devin Morris (shooting guard), Logan Rodenbaugh (forward), Daniel Quist (point guard) and Chase Pylkas (forward).

“A solid core of seniors return from last year,” Koopman said. “This is a great group of young men who are great leaders and role models which understand the hard work and dedication necessary to win.”

Juniors on the team are Owen Bontekoe (forward), Trevor Bode (forward), Ethan Bartin (center) and Gavin Sieland (point guard). Sophomores filling out the roster are Grayson VerBerkmoes (guard), Kaiden McGillis (guard), Connor Murphy (guard), Mason Heuker (forward) and Daniel Rodenbaugh (guard, forward). The junior varsity team went 17-3 last year, so those making the move up to varsity play should be used to success.

The Ramblers should also have a distinct height advantage over most opponents, as they boast a roster almost entirely of 6-footers, with eight being 6’3” or taller.

“The success of this team relies on being able to defend, rebound and execute on offense at a high level,” Koopman said. “The execution is about all the little things like screening, passing, ball handling, rebounding and defending at a high level and not being intimidated. Our seniors will definitely be our leaders and will be counted on early as our young players gain confidence. Having been on varsity now one and for some two years the seniors know the commitment and goals of the program; win a conference and make a deep run in the MHSAA tournament come March.”

McBain won its season opener at home against non-league Buckley on Tuesday, 67-26. The Ramblers had a nearly perfect opening quarter, taking a 24-0 lead after one. McBain held its lead to 39-15 at the half and led as much as 55-15 in the fourth.
Leading the way was Rodenbaugh with 16 points, Morris had 12, VerBerkmoes netted 11 and Murphy had six points.

McBain (1-0 overall) heads to Kalkaska tonight (Friday), is in Big Rapids on Monday and hosts Boyne City on Thursday. The Ramblers open Highland Conference play in Evart on Dec. 11.

“As always the road to a Highland Conference championship will be tough,” Koopman said. “I expect Pine River, Beal City and Manton to be top contenders with Evart being very athletic and competitive. Lake City brings great coaching and confidence after a very successful football season.”

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