By. K.D. Norris
East Kentwood boys basketball head coach Jeff Anama is still getting the feel for his 2016-17 Falcons squad as the prepares for a Dec. 28 game at perennial state-power Muskegon and then a short holiday break from their schedule.
But one thing he already knows for sure — freshman point guard Jamoni Jones is more than ready to lead his team.
“Jamoni Jones, we believe, is one of the best freshman in Grand Rapids area,” Anama said. He has been fantastic for a freshman in his first four games. He has a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is great for any guard who has the ball all the time … the point guard position has so much responsibility.”
Anama talked to WKTV following its Dec. 16 game at Wyoming broadcast by WKTV community television, a 64-59 loss which left the team at 2-2 in pre-conference games — and a game in which he started four seniors and Jones.
Against the Wolves, senior forward CaNas Coleman led the team in scoring with 14 points while fellow senior starter Keenan Williamson, at wing, added 10; both are averaging double-figure scoring in the first four games. Coleman is also averaging double-figures in rebounds. The other senior starters are wingman Daniel Akhimien and forward Yiber Sahtolli.
But Jones is not the only young player getting minutes for the Falcons, and the starting lineup may see more underclassman as the season goes on. Against Wyoming, sophomores Frederick Baker scored 12 and Adis Poljak added 10.
“Our other young guys have shown signs of getting more comfortable with the varsity level as well,” Anama said. “Adis Poljak had a great week … leading us in scoring vs Byron Center. Fredrick Baker is starting to find his shooting touch, and (sophomore) Ryel Daye brings the most energy on the team every game and every practice.”
So the ability of the Falcons to blend young talent with the seniors will be a major factor in the teams’s ability to compete in the OK Red Conference and make some noise at tournament time.
“We are an extremely young and inexperienced team, and all the teams we have played against have had many returning players,” Anama said. “I have been very impressed with our team’s ability to compete and very happy with our progress to this point. … We have some very nice pieces and we have not had a full roster healthy, so I think we’re only going to get better.”
In addition to the continued progress of his freshman point guard, Anama said he is confident in the continued progress and senior leadership of Williamson and Coleman.
“Keenan (Williamson) is an extremely quick guard who is in his first year on varsity and has done a tremendous job up in our games this year,” Anama said. “CaNas (Coleman) is also a first-year senior and is one of the best rebounders I’ve ever coached. Both guys are on a huge learning curve and have handled all of the pressure we have put on them very well to this point. … It is a long, tough season in the OK Red so it’s not going to get any easier for them.”
The team may also be bolstered by transfer D’Avery Moore, who played for Wyoming Godwin Heights last season and will be eligible after Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Day.
East Kentwood will open conference play on Jan. 6 with a game at Grandville.