So far, Warren’s group of eight Eagles have raised those expectations to new heights.
With Calvary’s 62-28 blowout victory of Byron Center Zion Christian on Thursday at Fruitport Calvary High School, the Eagles tied the school record for most wins in a season with 15.
“For the details we had laid out, I figured there’d be an adjustment period, but the kids have really stepped up to as far as how hard our practices are and the intensity we need to play with on a daily basis,” Warren said. “I’ve been proud of the whole team. It’s been fun. And they continue to improve game-by-game.”
Warren served as the Spring Lake varsity girls coach for 10 seasons before resigning in April and agreeing to take over at Calvary. Part of the allure to switch to a small Class D school was the opportunity to coach his son, sophomore Michael Warren, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds against Zion.
Calvary achieved its record-tying feat while honoring its four seniors in their last home game. The group includes center Patrick Asdell, guard Patrick Stewart, wing Guthrie Collins, and guard David Borgenson.
“It’s much more intense in practices and the team chemistry is much stronger,” said Asdell, a four-year varsity player, who averages nearly 15 rebounds a game. “We really push each other to improve in more ways than just on the court. It’s also with our grades and in the classroom. It’s like one big family.”
Calvary’s record stands at 15-3 overall, with non-league games remaining against Walkerville on Tuesday and Pentwater on Thursday. The Eagles’ 11-3 record in the Alliance League trails leader Holland Calvary (11-1) and second-place West Michigan Lutheran (11-2).
The Eagles had no trouble with fellow Alliance League foe Zion on Thursday, racing out to a 15-0 first-quarter lead and never looking back. Their lead remained above 28 points throughout the second half.
Calvary’s opening basket of the second half put their home fans into a frenzy. Michael Warren stepped into the passing lane and picked off a Zion pass near half-court, streaked the other way and emphatically threw down a two-handed dunk. The 6-foot-5 forward got a little too caught up in the moment, however, as he was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
“He told me he was worried about his ankle coming down. Yeah, whatever,” Jim Warren joked.
Calvary’s full-court press forced Zion into 18 turnovers. Warren said it was a marked improvement from the Eagles’ last contest against Fremont Providence Christian, in which they allowed 65 points.
“It was a wake-up call in practice as to the defensive focus we needed,” Jim Warren said. “This was actually the first game we’ve gone to a full-court press. Zion has such a big team, we felt with adding some pressure, we could create some problems for them. It forced a lot of rushed shots, which benefitted out kids. It allowed us offensively to get out and go.”
Even with Zion featuring 6-foot-6 center Daniel Stanley as a shot-blocking presence in the middle, the Eagles still attacked inside all evening. Aside from Michael Warren’s production, Asdell contributed six points and 10 rebounds. Collins excelled slashing to the rim, using his 6-foot-3 frame to finish often in the paint. He scored 13 points, which was matched by guard Mark Carlson.
Stewart also showcased some newly-developed spin moves to score nine.
“That was actually the first time I’ve ever tried that,” he said. “We did some drills in practice the other day working on cross-overs, spin dribbles and other basics. Coach Warren stresses that a lot. He wants us to do it right.”
Calvary drew Providence Christian for its opening round district game at host Muskegon Catholic Central. If victorious, the Eagles will likely see the Crusaders in the finals.
“It’s best if we get the ball into our three big guys, Mike, Guthrie and Asdell,” Stewart said. “When they’re scoring, it opens up our outside shots, too.”