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Covenant Christian rolls past Manton, 62-35, in a Class C semifinal

By: Lenny Padilla, March 23, 2017, 5:54 pm

East Lansing – It’s been 21 years since Grand Rapids Covenant Christian has been to a state final but the names of Koole and Meulenberg are still on the roster.

Juniors Trenton Koole and Carson Meulenberg helped the Chargers dismantle Manton, 62-35, on Thursday in a Class C semifinal at the Breslin Center.

Both of their fathers were on the team when Covenant Christian won consecutive Class D titles in 1993 and ‘94.

“He talks about it all the time,” said Koole of his dad, Scott. “He always brags and says ‘I made it this far.’ Now I can go back to him and say the same thing.”

Koole scored all 14 of his points in the first half and Meulenberg scored eight of his 10 in the second.

“I thought our defensive effort was really good today,” said Covenant Christian coach Tyler Schimmel, whose team held Manton to 21 percent shooting. “We knew Manton could shoot the ball really well, but our defense was really good in the first half.”

The Chargers (21-5) advance to play Flint Beecher in the title game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Meulenberg, a lanky 6-6 forward, takes to heart the advice his father, David, gives him about playing in the state finals.

“My dad’s got a lot of good advice for me,” he said. “I take that to the games a lot. He says to stay calm and keep your composure. Play your best.

“It’s going to take a really good effort (to defeat Beecher) and a belief we can compete on a high level,” Schimmel said. “Coach (Mike) Williams does a nice job with Flint Beecher. There a really good team. But these guys (looking at his players) are pretty good, too.”

Benji Kuiper, a senior guard for Covenant Christian, said it’s going to be tough to defend against Beecher’s Malik Ellison, the Class C Player of the Year.

“Definitely someone who can take over a game single-handedly, so we’re going to have to show up on defense,” Kuiper said.

Kuiper had six points, six assists and five steals. Kuiper also will be competing in the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s 3-point contest on Saturday.

Koole, a 6-4 forward, was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.

“In the first half, I took it to the rim way better and drew some fouls,” he said. “In the second half, I just kind of laid back a little bit and gave it more to my teammates when Carson took over.”

The Chargers went on a 19-0 run in the second quarter and led 34-10 at halftime.

“To be honest, since our first district game, we haven’t played that well,” said Schimmel, in his third season as coach. “I told the guys before the game ‘we’re due for one.’ And I’m glad it was today.”

Zach Kaptein was 5-of-6 from the field and had 10 points for the Chargers. Tyler Cammenga had nine points and seven rebounds, and Trevor Miedema added eight points including two 3-pointers.

Manton (21-5) was led in scoring by Jayden Perry with 13 points.

Manton won a state championship in 1946 when it defeated Saginaw St. Peter and Paul, 34-33. The last time Manton reached a final was in 1996, when it lost to Detroit DePorres, 79-54.