“The Rivalry”: 101 years of West Michigan hoops

Calvin University, known as Calvin College until 2019, is a private reformed Christian academic institution in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Established in 1876, Calvin’s proximity in age and location stands as a counterpart to Hope College, also featuring a historically successful NCAA Division 3 basketball team, an undergraduate education influenced by Christian principles, and a campus set in West Michigan. The juxtaposition of the two schools has created “The Rivalry”, the historic tension between Hope’s Flying Dutchmen and Calvin’s Knights, specifically on the basketball court. 

The rivalry of the men’s basketball teams has spanned a total of 101 years. The teams have faced off a total of 204 times with Hope slightly leading the series with 104 wins compared to Calvin’s 100. The first game between the two was in 1921, where Hope defeated Calvin in a relatively low-scoring game of 31-30. While Hope maintains a slight lead in the series against Calvin, the margin is exceptionally thin. The total point difference in all 204 games of the rivalry is only 62, averaging to a difference of 0.30 points per game. The most recent face-off between the two teams was at the Van Noord Arena on January 30th.

At this particular game, the stands were exceptionally empty due to COVID guidelines. This led to the game being devoid of the usual crowd-fueled energy at arguably the most contentious basketball game of the year for these two rivals. The Dutchmen took an early lead, but the Knights caught up at halftime reducing the lead to only a few points. The Knights added to the pressure against Hope by out-shooting them on the free throw line at 48.6%, a reasonable margin compared to Hope’s 40.3%. Scoring leaders for Calvin included Thad Shymanski (’21) and Brandon Paul (’23), each scoring 23 points. For the Dutchmen, Preston Granger (’21) brought in a total of 25 points, followed by 6th man Clayton Dykhouse (’23) with an incredible performance of 16 points outscoring all but Granger. With 1.8 seconds remaining in the game, the score stood tied at 77 points. So, in a last-ditch effort, Granger attempted a layup but was fouled by Paul. However, Granger then proceeded to sink both free throw shots, once again giving Hope the lead. Calvin’s last game-winning attempt was unsuccessful with a failed half-court shot ending the game at 79-77, another win for the Flying Dutchmen.

Hope College Men’s Basketball at Trine

Later in the week, a trip to Angola, Indiana ended in a disappointing Hope loss to Trine University with a resounding score of 91-52. Following this, the men’s team was set to take on the Kalamazoo Hornets on Saturday, February 6th. Unfortunately, due to a possible COVID case on the Kalamazoo team, the game was canceled. A makeup game is yet to be determined. The men continue their season 2-2 overall.

Meanwhile, Hope’s NCAA Women’s Division III #1 ranked basketball team continues its winning streak. After an unfortunately unresolved 2020 season, the women’s team has returned to claim their spot, starting with their rivals, Calvin University. The women’s teams rivalry has spanned 51 years, starting in 1965. With a series total of 126 games, the Calvin women lead with 71 games to 55. However, since 2000, Hope has commanded a dominant lead in the series- winning 41 games out of the 56. 

This season, the Hope women had home-court advantage hosting the Knights at DeVos fieldhouse on Saturday, January 30th. The scoring leader, Kennedy Schoonveld (’21), number 20, earned the team a total of 19 points closely followed by Olivia Voskuil (’21), number 5, with 16 points. Calvin University’s top scorers were Leah Harris (’23), number 20, with 18 points and Stephanie Coors (’22), number 10, with 10 points. The Hope women’s massive defensive effort and excellent offense proved to be too much for Calvin, leading to an unstoppable momentum change. Hope declared a substantial victory, defeating Calvin 74-58. For Hope seniors, this win marked a special accomplishment. This 9th win further strengthened their undefeated record against Calvin during their careers at Hope College. It also marked the longest winning streak the Flying Dutchmen women have had against Calvin since the 1960s. 

Hope College Women’s Basketball vs Calvin

The Hope women gained another home-court team win against Trine University on Wednesday, February 3rd. This game featured a closer score of 61-52. The women’s team will also be facing off against the MIAA ranked #8 team, Kalamazoo, on the Hornets’ home turf on Saturday, February 6th. 

While many similar themes of 2020 are still alive and well in the continued uncertainty of 2021, many would say something new has emerged: hope. As vaccine distribution continues, old rivalries are continued and kept alive, and sports are beginning to look real again. Hope students and others alike are finding comfort in the possibility of returning to normalcy, both on and off the basketball court.

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