Conference comeback: basketball looks to improve in conference play


As the buzzer rang at the Grand Rapids Christian Quest center, the East Grand Rapids student section emptied onto the basketball court with the victorious Pioneers basketball team. 

On Jan. 13, the Pioneers took on the 6-0 Grand Rapids Christian Eagles. It was a tight game but through East’s team effort, they were able to pull ahead by just three points and win the game, a major upset for both teams.   

This game has set the boys on track and they are ready to turn their season around. With the second half of their season beginning, they are showing promising potential.

The team has had their fair share of difficult losses throughout the season after losing to Grand Rapids Catholic Central after being tied at half, and then taking a tough loss at Northview by only three points. 

“Although many games haven’t gone or ended how we would’ve liked, I feel like our team is getting better and better and we are getting closer to our potential,” Brady Leistra ‘23 said.

The team closed their 2022 season with a record of 2-5 and continues to face tough competition and rivalries. 

  “Forest Hills Central always plays really hard and chippy, We are going to have to prepare well, trying to contain their high powered offense,” Simon Neuhaus ‘23 said. 

The team has faced their fair share of adversity, having two key players out due to injury. Tobenna Egwuatu ‘24 is currently not able to play and Arjun Taylor ‘23 has been battling injuries but just joined the team back on the court after being out for a majority of the season.

“I have a tear in my patellar tendon that happened over time because I just kept playing so it got worse, then I was told I have a tear in my knee,” Egwuatu said. 

Egwuatu should be ready to play within the next two weeks and is looking forward to getting back on the court.

“We’ve obviously lost two key role players to injuries and I think we are a much stronger team when those two are with us,” Leistra said. 

This team will not let the injuries affect them as they are working to improve every day. 

“As a team we need to work on getting rebounds and offense,” Jacob Krause ‘24 said.

In practice the team spends a lot of time working drills and running to fight their way back to the district finals, where they took a hard loss last year that ended their season. 

The boys are working on communication in practice and also slowing the game down to take more control over the court. They will continue to play some tough competition, but by improving these small things, they believe they will have a better shot at improving their record. 

 “We do best when we take control of the game and stay patient while pushing to stay aware and smart. I feel it all starts in practice and will soon transfer over to the game,” Leistra said.  

 Looking ahead, the boys plan to improve overall and hope to end with a good conference record. You can come out and watch them play Northview, the Number one ranked team in Grand Rapids, at home on Feb. 7, in hopes of tightening the small gap in points and pulling out a win.