Thursday marked the opening game of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association conference season for the Grand Rapids Community College Raiders as they played host to the Jackson College Jets. In a whirlwind of scoring, emotions and brilliance, the Raiders squeaked out the 89-84 win.
“It was a big win for us,” Raiders head coach, Luke Bronkema said in a post game interview. “The guys played really hard. It was a quality win over a quality team with some good players.”
The Raiders were rusty at the beginning of the game. There were instances of miscommunication and sloppy ball handling that led to turnovers and easy layups for the Jets.
“I think there’s rust anytime you take multiple, three or four days off,” Bronkema said. “I mean, what can you do?”
The Raiders shook off most of their rust in the first half and trailed 35-32 at halftime.
Sophomore Guard Curtis Davison again led the way for the Raiders in scoring with a game high of 36 points on 52 percent shooting from the field (13-25). Freshman forward Sammie Ryans notched a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds on 85 percent from the field (6-7) and 75 percent from the perimeter (3 of 4).
“I felt pretty good tonight,” Ryans said post game. “I played hard, my team played hard and we executed everything well.”
With 9:42 minutes to play, the game turned chippy and emotional as Kayron Rodgers of Jackson and Davison were assessed offsetting technical fouls. From that point on, the emotions ran high in a positive manner, that was aided by the Ford Fieldhouse crowd.
Sophomore Guard Jeremiah Davis led the game with 5 assists and brought intangible leadership that does not show on the stat sheet.
“In pressure situations, staying calm will get you farthest,” Davis said. “When you lose your head and you get out of it, it’s not going to do anything good. So it’s just stay calm and do what you know how to do.”
The leadership that Davis exemplified is exactly what the Raiders need going forward, and Bronkema knows to expect it from his team.
“We work on trying to get the guys little bit better every single day,” Bronkema said. “At the end of the day today, we had some guys that stepped up and made plays. That’s what it takes to win games and a conference.”
With just under 11 minutes to play in the second half, Jackson Sophomore Guard Brandon Thomas was injured and the game was halted briefly. Thomas suffered an apparent knee injury and had to be helped off the floor. Thomas was able to return to the game minutes later.
Davison scored back-to-back three-pointers and gave the Raiders a permanent lead with just under three minutes to play and sent Gordon Hunsberger Arena into a frenzy.
The Raiders next game is at Muskegon Community College on Sat., Jan. 6 at 3 p.m. Their next home game is 7:30 p.m. Wed., Jan. 10 in Gordon Hunsberger Arena.