GRCC men’s basketball stays positive, wins by 14

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The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team defeated Muskegon Community College Friday, with a score of 82-68.

With this win, the Raiders improve to 12-9 on the season and 6-4 in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference.

The win is “huge,” according to Freshman Guard Zach Pangborn.

Freshman Guard, #5, Zach Pangborn.Avery Jennings - Sports Editor
Freshman Guard, #5, Zach Pangborn.

“They’re our rivals and we have a two game winning streak now,” Pangborn said. “We just beat a good team at Jackson, too, so we just need to use this and keep building the momentum going forward for Lansing who’s another good team.”

The win is part of a streak of “positive basketball,” Head Coach Luke Bronkema said as the Raiders lost a home game to Mid Michigan CC on Jan. 27. Since then, they’ve defeated Jackson College and Muskegon CC.

Bronkema thinks the reason is “positive energy no matter what.”

“It’s something that maybe we didn’t stress enough earlier in the year enough, but in the last couple of weeks, we’ve really been stressing,” Bronkema said. “Once the Mid Michigan game finished up, we had a great example of what bad energy looked like, so from then on out we’ve been stressing (positive energy) even more after that game. It comes down to no matter what happens, we all have to stay together and stay positive.”

Freshman Guard, #11, Darron Ewing Jr. shoots the contested layup for GRCC.Avery Jennings - Sports Editor
Freshman Guard, #11, Darron Ewing Jr. shoots the contested layup for GRCC.

The team started the game with strong energy and were able to stay positive and encourage teammates, like Freshman Guard Zach Pangborn, as the game progressed.

“If I ever start bad, Jeff and AP always come up to me and tell me to just keep shooting the ball, have confidence and they’ll still look for me,” Pangborn said, referring to Sophomore Guards Jeffrey Drake-Todd and Arthur Pearson.

Pangborn finished the game shooting 55 percent with 14 points and three steals. He was a “great example of keeping his head,” Bronkema said.

Sophomore Forward, #33, AJ Whitaker going up for the block against a Muskegon CC player.Avery Jennings - Sports Editor
Sophomore Forward, #33, AJ Whitaker going up for the block against a Muskegon CC player.

“He came out and took some shots that were decent looks and they didn’t drop,” Bronkema said. “But even in the locker room at halftime after they (Muskegon) made that last second shot, we kept our heads up and Zach was right in there keeping everybody positive, clapping it up and then he came out and had a great second half.”

For the Raiders, the first half was a good start, shooting 41 percent from the field, only committing four turnovers and staying with Muskegon CC in points, 34-37.

In the second half and closing out the game, the Raiders really picked it up, shooting 56 percent from the field, finishing the game with only four more turnovers and holding Muskegon CC to their third lowest scoring total of the season.

Sophomore Guard, #1, Arthur Pearson pulls up for the jump shot with a Muskegon CC hand in his face.Avery Jennings - Sports Editor
Sophomore Guard, #1, Arthur Pearson pulls up for the jump shot with a Muskegon CC hand in his face.

Statistically, stand out performances included Drake-Todd who led the team with 26 points, earning seven assists and grabbing two steals. Pearson also finished strong with 19 points, grabbing seven rebounds and also stealing the ball twice. Sophomore Forward, A.J. Whitaker also played well with his highlights being his team-leading 13 rebounds and his fair contribution of six points.

The team’s “battle cry” going forward will be positive energy according to Bronkema.

“The one thing that won’t change is you gotta play, especially against good, every play to win and in order to do that you have to have positive energy when things aren’t going your way.”

The next game for the Raiders will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Lansing Community College. The LCC Stars are currently undefeated in the MCCAA Western Conference and ranked 13th in the National Junior College Athletic Association for Div. II junior colleges.

The next home game will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, against Glen Oaks Community College at the GRCC Ford Fieldhouse.

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