By Teddy Rydquist
Review Sports Contributor
The Lake Orion Dragons boys’ basketball team rounded out the home portion of their schedule by battling the West Bloomfield Lakers on Feb. 28.
As the school has traditionally done, the program held their Senior Night festivities pre-game, honoring their five soon-to-be graduates – Dylan Boedigheimer, Kadin Collie, Ari Curtis, Cam Sutton and Drew Van Heck – along with their parents.
Ranking among the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red Division’s top-five rebounders, Boedigheimer has been head coach Joel Schroeder’s steadiest inside presence all campaign long. He will stay in the area and attend Oakland University in the fall.
Collie, who has worked his way onto the active roster after serving as the team’s manager last season, plans to attend Grand Valley State University in Allendale. The Dragons’ other three seniors all plan to continue their athletic careers at the next level.
Curtis, a standout defensive end/tight end for head coach John Blackstock’s football program, will take his talents to Iowa Falls, Iowa to play for the Ellsworth Community College Panthers. Van Heck, one of the top baseball prospects in the state, has signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Western Michigan Broncos, following in the footsteps of Josh Bays (’14), Vinnie Booker (’10), Nick Vogelmeier (’13) and others.
Sutton is still being openly recruited to play basketball at the collegiate level.
After topping the Bloomfield Hills Black Hawks on Feb. 21, Lake Orion went into the West Bloomfield game hoping to win consecutive games for the first time this season. While the Dragons kept it close in the first half, it was not to be as the Lakers widened the gap late, cruising to a 65-44 victory.
The score was tied at 13 following the opening eight minutes and Lake Orion entered the halftime break down by only three points, 26-23. Ramping up the defensive pressure, head coach Jeremy Denha’s boys outscored the Dragons, 39-21, in the second half.
Sutton scored a game-high 12 points for Lake Orion and Boedigheimer and Curtis each added six.
Leading a balanced attack, senior Jon Ammori and freshman Ryan Hurst tallied a team-high 10 points for West Bloomfield. Fellow senior Shamar Mathews chipped in nine points.
“That’s kind of been the tale of our year, man,” Schroeder shared. “We have these spurts up-and-down, usually it’s games, we’ll play a good game and then a bad game. Tonight, it was halves. I’m excited about where we’re going with some of our young guys, but it’s been a slow progression at times.”
With the loss to the Lakers, the Dragons fell to 6-12 (2-8 OAA Red). This total puts the team one-half game behind Bloomfield Hills and the Oak Park Knights for a share of fifth-place in the division. Interestingly, both of Lake Orion’s league wins have come against Bloomfield Hills.
In a tough twist of scheduling that could ultimately end up playing out in the Dragons’ favor, Schroeder and his team will conclude their season with consecutive road games against the Ferndale Eagles and Clarkston Wolves on March 3 and March 5, respectively.
Possessing a combined divisional record of 17-3, Clarkston (10-0) and Ferndale (7-3) are the top-two teams in the OAA Red.
“We’ve been talking about our tournament beginning as soon as the calendar flips to March,” Schroeder said. “We’re going to get on the bus and go to these schools and try to play our best basketball.
“Ferndale is tough, and obviously Clarkston, too. But we have stuff from the whole year we can throw at them, though. We’re going to throw a bunch of stuff at them, and then get ready for this tournament. I think we got a good draw and can win a couple of games, so, we’ll see what happens.”
Lake Orion will begin their postseason push in the same gymnasium they will finish their regular season. Hosted by Clarkston, the Dragons were placed in Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) District No. 5, along with Clarkston, Oxford, Rochester Adams, Romeo and Waterford Kettering.
The Dragons will battle Romeo at 7 p.m. on March 9, with the winner advancing to face Waterford Kettering on March 11.
Clarkston will square off with Rochester Adams in the other quarterfinal matchup (5:30 p.m. March 9), with Oxford awaiting the victor.