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Unity Christian Takes State Basketball Championship

Unity Christian Takes State Basketball Championship
Unity Christian 2019 Boys’ Basketball state champion winning team.
Cim Flanders

The athletic program at Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Mich., has had an historic season.

With a state basketball championship secured in March, Unity became the first Michigan high school ever to win state championships in football, boys soccer, and boys’ basketball in the same academic year. The Crusaders completed the unprecedented feat with the Division 2 boys’ basketball title win, 58-55, over River Rouge High School March 16. Noah Wiswary, who also played on Unity’s football team last fall, scored 17 points to lead his team to the win.

“We really did play as a team. There wasn’t one individual who dominated for us. We had contributions from a lot of kids throughout the year,” Crusaders coach Scott Soodsma said.

Seven of the 14 players on the basketball team played either football or soccer last fall, and Soodsma said that postseason experience helped the Crusaders in their run to a basketball championship.

“You can’t teach experience, and they had experienced a lot already. There was no doubt that was a real big factor in our ability to do what we did,” he said.

While Unity typically fields strong teams in all three sports, few could have predicted this outcome for all three teams.

“I have to honestly say I didn’t see this coming,” said Jerry DeGroot, who has been principal at Unity for the past seven years, and before that was the school’s athletic director for 12 years. “It’s just a lot of credit to kids, to coaches, to parents. A lot of things went our way, and we feel very fortunate.”

The Crusaders finished the season with a 26-2 record, going undefeated in their conference for the third consecutive year and winning their last 22 games, eight of them in the state tournament. In the regional finals, Unity Christian defeated the top-ranked team in the state, who had eliminated the Crusaders in last year’s tournament.

DeGroot, who attends Messiah Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, said the success was earned by the whole team. “Everybody played to their capabilities and played their role.”

This championship is the third overall state title for coach Soodsma, who is also dean of students at Unity Christian. He coached the Crusaders to a state girls’ basketball championship in 2006, and previously won a state title in 1987 at Northern Michigan Christian High School in McBain, Mich. He also attends Messiah CRC in Hudsonville.

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