Grand Rapids, MI – Van Andel Arena and iHeartMedia are thrilled to announce the return of Jam at the Van, the high school boys basketball event that last tore up the Van Andel Arena court in 2010. The 2021 Jam at the Van will feature four games with eight Michigan high school teams competing for glory on Thursday, December 30, 2021. The match-ups include:
- Grand Rapids Catholic Central vs. Grand Blanc
- Ferndale vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
- Romulus Summit Academy vs. Kalamazoo Central
- Rockford vs. Ottawa Hills
More information will be announced soon, including game times, ticket prices and the ticket on-sale date. Please check VanAndelArena.com for updates.
The return of Jam at the Van comes on the heels of the MHSAA High School Boys Basketball Division 2 and 4 Semifinals that took place at Van Andel Arena on April 8, 2021. Capacity restrictions in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused the MHSAA to relocate the Semifinals to Van Andel Arena, and the opportunity for the schools to compete in an arena of that size was exciting for the student athletes, their families and the coaches.
“I saw the excitement in the players’ faces when they walked out onto the court,” said Grand Rapids Catholic Central Coach TJ Meerman. “After watching them play at a venue like Van Andel Arena, I started thinking about how we could make this happen again. I reached out to Van Andel Arena with the idea and they were very supportive. I can’t wait to get back out on that court in December.”
The inaugural Jam at the Van brought high school boys basketball action to the Van Andel Arena court on January 26, 2004. The event became an annual event, taking place each January for seven consecutive years. Past events were doubleheaders, allowing four schools to compete each year. This year’s expanded Jam at the Van will double the action with four games and eight schools.
“I’m honored to have been a part of putting this event together every year in the past and am beyond excited to bring it back this year,” said Bret Bakita, Sports Director for iHeartMedia. “I’ve been covering local sports for 25-plus years, and there’s nothing like seeing high school athletes get the chance to compete in a setting like Van Andel Arena.”
State Champions will meet when 2021 Division 1 State Champions Grand Blanc take on Division 2 State Champions Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Grand Blanc is led by incoming senior, 6’6” wing Ty Rogers, the #1 ranked player in Michigan and a top 30 player in the country with more than 15 high major Division 1 college offers. Multiple Grand Blanc players have received Division 1 college offers and incoming junior point guard RJ Taylor was All-State as a sophomore. Catholic Central is led by Jack Karasinski, one of the top returning seniors in the state who was All-State last season and has eight Division 1 college offers. Also leading the Cougars are Kaden Brown and Durral Brooks, who were both All-State 2nd Team and Honorable Mention last year.
Another great match-up will hit the court when Ferndale, who fell to Catholic Central in the Division 2 Semifinals, takes on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, who were defeated in the Division 1 Regional Finals in a tight game against Grand Blanc. Ferndale is led by 6’3” point guard Jason Drake and 6’5” wing Treyvon Lewis. Both of these incoming senior guards have multiple Division I college offers, and Lewis scored 51 points in one game last season as a junior. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s was the #1 ranked team in the state of Michigan for most of the season last year and is led by Division I All-State point guard Kareem Rozier and 6’6” junior Decorion Temple, who is attracting college coaching attention as well.
Romulus Summit Academy will take on Kalamazoo Central. The Romulus Summit Academy Dragons are led by Mr. Basketball candidate 6’2” senior guard Orlando Lovejoy Jr. The 4-year starter averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals in the 2020-2021 season. He's on track to score over 2,000 career points in 2021-2022. The Dragons will rely heavily on a 3-guard tandem that includes 6’2” junior Jamil Fuller and 5’10” sophomore Dontez Scott Jr. Kalamazoo Central was favored to win the district last season but lost in the semifinals, 49-47, without three starters and the head coach due to COVID-19, finishing the season with a 12-3 record. The team’s four returning starters include Thomas Dillard, 6'4" junior guard/forward, averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds;
Scott Hughes, 6'0" junior guard, averaging 13 points and 4 assists; Hutch Ward, 6'7" sophomore forward, averaging 9.8 points, 6 rebounds and 36% 3-point field goal percentage; and Terrance Jones, 6'1" sophomore guard, who stepped into the starting lineup midway thru the season.
Rockford will face off against Ottawa Hills. The defending OK Red Conference 2020-2021 Champions Rockford Rams will feature a number of key returners in the 2021-2022 season. Calvin Kibbe, 1st team OK Red as a junior, is a great athlete with college basketball and football prospects. Nick Heinen, a third-year varsity player/starter, played the first 10 games last season, then had the rest of his season cut short due to a knee injury. Prior to his injury, he was having an all-conference year and is hoping to be back at full strength next season. Jack Lamancusa, also a third-year varsity player/starter, started seven games as a sophomore and all games as a junior. Kyle Varady was 6th man last year as a junior and will be starting Point Guard this season. Old City League powerhouse Ottawa Hills will feature 5’9” senior Point Guard Duncan Carter, a floor general running the offense for the Bengals who shoots the ball from midrange very well and scores in transition very efficiently. Also playing for Ottawa Hills is 6’0” senior G Kemarrion Beal, a lockdown defender whose strengths are shooting the ball from three and getting downhill towards the basket.
About ASM Global:
Van Andel Arena is managed by ASM Global. ASM Global is the world’s leading venue management and services company. The company was formed by the combination of AEG Facilities and SMG, global leaders in venue and event strategy and management. The company’s elite venue network spans five continents, with a portfolio of more than 300 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition centers, and performing arts venues. From Aberdeen to Anchorage, and Sydney to Stockholm, its venues connect people through the unique power of live experiences.
ASM Global’s diverse portfolio of clients benefit from the company’s depth of resources and unparalleled experience, expertise and creative problem-solving. Each day, the company’s passionate employees around the world deliver locally tailored solutions and cutting-edge technologies to deliver maximum results for venue owners, and operations, and amazing experiences for guests. By consistently looking for new ways to envision, innovate and empower the spaces and places that bring people together, ASM Global elevates the human spirit while delivering the highest value for all stakeholders. For more information, please visit www.asmglobal.com.