Crossroads Enjoying Historic Campaign Behind Faith, Friendship
BIG RAPIDS – With a first-year head coach, the Big Rapids Crossroads boys basketball program is in the midst of a historic campaign.
An honorable mention team in the final Associated Press Division 4 state poll, the Cougars (21-1) have won 19 consecutive games since a 66-55 loss to conference foe Manistee Catholic Central back on Dec. 5, captured their second-ever conference championship and won a Division 4 district title with a three-point victory over Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (55-52) last Friday.
When Julian Castillo took the head coaching reins, he knew he had a talented team, but he needed some help on the bench.
Enter assistant coach Trevor Wickes.
The father of senior Jackson Wickes and the youth pastor at Trinity Fellowship Evangelical Free Church of Big Rapids, Trevor Wickes has mentored many of the Cougars.
“To have our assistant coach be our youth pastor that we’re with on Sundays and on the weekends, it just kind of built our relationship and has given us strong unity on the team,” Crossroads senior Britton Angell said.
Another addition to the Cougar lineup this year is 6-foot-8 junior center Isaac Slomp. After being home-schooled his entire life, Slomp, a member of the same youth group that so many of the Cougars belong to, enrolled at Crossroads in the fall.
“It was a bit of an adjustment to playing ball with them,” Slomp said. “Haven’t done that in a long time. Just to be able to know each other really helped.”
“Because he had that previous relationship with me and some of the guys on the team because of the youth group, he was able to find his identity easier,” added Jackson Wickes.
Faith and friendship has brought the Cougars together and helped establish a winning product on the hardwood.
“Having faith in God just builds a bond between you and your teammates,” Crossroads junior Cody Carlson said. “You can trust in God every day. You never turn away from him because God will always be there for you. It’s just like our teammates. We’ll always have each other’s backs and we’ll always be there for each other.”
Crossroads takes on Kingston (19-3) in a regional semifinal Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game will face either Mio (18-4) or Fulton (11-10) for the regional title on Thursday.