Falcon’s girls team starts season 5-1; continues to seek improvement

East Kentwood High School’s girls basketball team in action during a Dec. 16 game at Wyoming. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris



East Kentwood girls basketball head coach Jimmy Carter’s 2016-17 Falcons squad has looked impressive heading into its holiday break — winning five of six games with their only loss a close contest at perennial state-power Grand Rapids Catholic Central.


But don’t even think about asking him if he is “pleased” with the team’s development.


“I am never pleased,” Carter said last week. “There are always things to get right. We can go the whole season and I will always want them to get better than the game before. … I want to see growth all the time.”


Carter talked to WKTV following its Dec. 16 game at Wyoming broadcast by WKTV community television, 61-47 win in which the team was led by junior forward Lazurera’s Saunder’s 12 points and sophomore guards Mauriya Barnes and Alona Blackwell also scoring in double figures.


But, he says, the Falcons have a usual rotation of about seven players and each of them are capable of being the leading scorer on any given night.


“The players I put out there depends on who we are playing and what I want them to do … We do a lot of pressing and I like to keep them fresh, so I rotate them a lot,” said Carter, who took over as head coach of the team in 2012 and has had success to date, including having East Kentwood win three games in last season’s state tournament.


The other players on Carter’s usual rotation are senior guards Amari Brown and Anaya Powell, senior forward Andrea Johnson, and junior forward/center Taia Smith. Also on varsity are senior forward/center Jaylia Dooley and junior forwards Kayly Brown and Jordan Huizenga.


The 10-player compliment on varsity is not a matter of lack of number in the program, Carter says, pointing out that there are about 15 players on both the junior varsity and freshman teams.


“It is not a numbers thing, it is a skill-level thing,” Carter said. “I believe that if they are an underclassman on varsity, they need to play. If they are not going to play, I want them to be at the level where they will play.”


The varsity team is in the midst of a nearly three-week holiday break, from its Dec. 16 game until it returns to action, and to action Tuesday, Jan. 3, hosting Muskegon before beginning OK Red Conference play on Friday, Jan. 6 at Grandville.


“I know what we have, I know what we are capable of,” Carter said, summing up his team at the break. “It is a matter of them having their assignments and carrying out their assignments.”