BELDING — “Under the weather” would describe the Belding boys basketball team, both in health and in shooting Friday night against NorthPointe Christian.
In a low-scoring 34-27 loss to the Mustangs, the Redskins were playing without four of their players owing to sickness, while most of the rest of the team battled symptoms.
Belding coach Steve Saboo did not see the game as a loss, but as a step in the right direction for his team, which is 2-10 overall and 0-7 in the Ottawa-Kent Silver Conference.
“We needed a game like this before the end of the season. We’re definitely due to pull out a close game,” Saboo said.
With four players out because of health, Saboo leaned on who he had left, one of them being junior forward Josh VanDyke, who at times seemed to take on the entire Mustangs team himself. He led the team with 18 points.
“Josh is one of the three captains. He’s a leader for the kids. He keeps them focused, really positive, emotional kid,” Saboo said. “He’s competitive to a fault. He will take on everybody if he can. Those are the kids we need and those are the kids you want. I enjoy coaching him every day because there isn’t one day he hasn’t competed for me.”
While Belding’s defense looked good early in the game, its offense was struggling with turnovers and unnecessary fouls, having only scored three points to the Mustangs’ five at the end of the first quarter.
It wasn’t until in the last minute of the first quarter that the Redskins finally got on the scoreboard, courtesy of a 3-pointer from senior Josh Feuerstein, who came off the bench and shot 2-of-6 3-pointers in the first half.
Feuerstein then gave the Redskins their first lead of the game, 7-5, with 5:28 to go in the second quarter, nailing two free throws.
The Mustangs (5-11 overall) would score the last four points of the half to take a 16-13 lead into halftime.
Down only by six with the clock winding down in the third quarter, the Mustangs’ guard Quinten Huckaby nailed a 3-pointer to put his team up 28-19 going in the last quarter and then followed that with a two-point bucket to open up the last quarter for a 30-19 lead.
VanDyke will lead the Redskins on an 8-2 run to pull within seven points, but Belding couldn’t force needed turnovers to make a comeback.
Saboo was still quite proud of how his team fought all four quarters.
“I think games like this show where your guts are at, this really showed our guts and our toughness,” Saboo said. “NorthPointe Christian is a good, solid program. They’re not just a good team. Every one of their teams are good. And we played right with them. We’re taking a big step in the right direction.”
VanDyke, who also was hit with the sickness going around the team, said he was ready for tonight’s game.
“In the last game, I was sick and hardly played. Tonight, I was feeling better, and I just wanted to play the best I can,” VanDyke said. “I just came out and tried to do what I could do on the boards, help my team, and that’s where most of my points came from was rebounds.”
VanDyke said despite the team being under the weather, he was proud to see his teammates stick in the game.
“It’s kind of hard because we only had eight guys today. Almost 100 percent of our team was getting sick. Everyone was down,” VanDyke said. “But in the game, our shots weren’t falling. That’s just how it happens sometimes.”