By Andrew Johnson
EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – The Whitehall boys basketball team has lots of depth this season, with nine returning players, and it showed on Friday night in a 64-49 victory over Oakridge in a West Michigan Conference clash.
Five different players scored seven points or more for the Vikings in a beautiful display of offensive diversity.
“It’s awesome,” said Whitehall head coach Nate Aardema about the offensive display on Friday night. “They’re just so smart and well-bonded together. It’s great.”
In the first quarter, it was the Oakridge offense which was dominant, giving the Eagles a 15-9 lead at the first buzzer. Ethan Jozsa led the Eagles with four points in the first while three other players totaled three points. Whitehall was led by Andrew Durbin with four points.
In the second quarter, the Whitehall defense took over, holding Oakridge to only seven points and allowing the Vikings to go into halftime with a 25-22 lead.
Oakridge was held to 2 of 10 shooting in the second quarter while Whitehall was 6-for-13 from the field. Durbin and Addison Bluhm each had five points for Whitehall in the quarter while Ethan Miller had three points for Oakridge.
Both teams struggled from the field in the third quarter, with Whitehall going 3-of-15 while Oakridge was 2-of-7, while also committing eight turnovers.
Despite the cold shooting, Whitehall still managed to extend its lead to 35-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
Whitehall opened the fourth with a 7-3 spurt to take a 42-31 lead and a double-digit advantage it would not surrender.
Dayton Cole had seven points over the final quarter to help the Vikings pull away while Luke Martin led Oakridge with eight points.
Durbin and Bluhm each led Whitehall with 15 points while Cole totaled nine. Red Watson and Caleb Koch each finished with seven points for the Vikings.
Cole led the Vikings with seven rebounds while Watson totaled five steals.
“It’s nice,” said Durbin about having multiple players who can lead the Vikings’ offense on any given night. “You know if you have a bad night that other guys can go for 15 or 20 (points). It’s hard for other teams to stop.”
Oakridge was led by Martin with 12 points while Jozsa and Bryson Foster each had nine.
The Vikings are now 3-1 on the season and 3-0 in conference play.
“It’s huge,” said Aardema about getting a road win at Oakridge. “We only play them once in the regular season. We could see them in districts, but it’s a huge win. They always play tough and make it really hard.”
The Eagles are now 2-2 overall and in conference play, and head coach Tracy Ruel is pleased overall with the effort his team has given.
“My guys don’t give up,” Ruel said. “They always play hard. All the way through the end we kept playing hard.”