The Olivet High School varsity boys’ basketball team will be in position to claim a share of the Greater Lansing Activities Conference championship when it takes on Lansing Christian Friday night in the OHS gymnasium.
The Eagles, 13-5 overall and 8-3 in the GLAC, trail Lansing Christian (9-2) by one full game in the league race. An Olivet victory Friday night would create a two-way tie atop the GLAC standings. In fact, it could create a three-way tie if Leslie (7-3) defeats Perry on Friday and Maple Valley on Monday.
Olivet and Lansing Christian have met once already this season, with the Pilgrims posting a 74-63 victory in Lansing on January 20. Eagles’ coach Travis Brown knows his team will have to be at its best Friday night.
“Christian is a balanced squad,” Brown said. “With five guys averaging seven points a game or more, it makes it difficult to stop them as a whole. Also, they spread the floor well enough that we must be disciplined on the ball screen game so we don’t over help and lose track of the long-ball shooters.
“Defensively, they bring an active half-court trap and cause us to take quick shots and make quick decisions that we have not had to make regularly through the season,” Brown added. “In a nutshell, they like to play up-tempo, as do we, but we need to ensure we make solid choices in the shots we take.”
Olivet is led by a pair of senior guards. Delbert Redfield averages 17.7 points, 3.9 assists and 3.5 steals per game for the Eagles, while Jake Holzhei scores 8.3 points per game while doing the majority of the ballhandling.
The locals’ starting lineup also features a trio of juniors. Ryan Wallenberg averages 12.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game; Nick Jungel totals 9.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per outing; and Colin Grady scores 5.8 points per game while leading the team in free throw and three-point shooting percentage.
Brown mentioned transition defense and ball security as keys to his team’s success Friday night. “Also, a major key will be who maintains their emotional balance the best,” he said. “We need to play with intensity yet maintain our poise along the way.”
Brown, now in his third season with the Eagles, went on to explain what a league title would mean to his program.
“It would validate the work we have been putting in on practice days,” he said. “These guys have shown glimpses of greatness in games and in practices. A league title validates that work.”