The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s basketball team knocked off the No. 1 ranked Ancilla College Chargers after a 94-92 battle in Gordon Hunsberger Arena.
Wednesday’s Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference matchup was a battle from the opening tip. The teams exchange baskets until the Chargers opened up a 10-0 run with around 14 minutes left in the first half to bring their lead to 21-11.
The Raiders (10-5 MCCAA – Western Conference, 18-8 overall) fought back to hang around with the Chargers (14-1 MCCAA – Western Conference, 24-2 overall) and eventually tied the game at 31 points apiece after sophomore guard Curtis Davison made a 3-pointer from the right wing.
After a sequence in which the Chargers took a four-point lead on a pair of tough layups down-low and Raiders freshman forward Sammie Ryans made a pair of free-throws, sophomore guard Darron Ewing Jr. tied the game at 36 apiece with just over five minutes to play in the opening half. Those points would be the only ones Ewing would score in the game as he racked up four first half fouls.
Sophomore guard Zach Pangborn made a 3-pointer on three out of four possessions for the Raiders and gave them the lead late in the first half.
Davison checked back in to help bolster the 10-2 run late in the first half for the Raiders. The run included a smooth pull-up jumper from 15 feet, a running layup in the paint and a 3-pointer to top off the opening half of play with 21 points himself. Pangborn had 18 in the first half.
The Raiders shot 50 percent (20-40) from the field and 38 percent (8-21) from long distance and only committed two turnovers. The Chargers shot 47 percent (18-38) from the floor and 41 percent (5-12) from the perimeter and committed five turnovers.
Pangborn started the second half fast for the Raiders, he scored a 3-pointer, then stole the ball and made a layup on the ensuing Charger possession. That brought the Raider lead to 10 points.
The Chargers made a run to chip away at their deficit. The did so switching to a zone defense and by attacking down low, using sophomore forward DK Fox on Raider freshman forward Diego Robinson. Robinson racked up fouls quickly and had to be substituted a number of times in the second half, he eventually fouled out scoring only six6 points.
Changing the defensive scheme helped the Chargers defend the Raider jumpshot, which went cold in the second half, missing eight consecutive 3-pointers after Pangborn’s make to start the second half.
“We simply held the ball too long,” said Raider Head Coach Luke Bronkema in a post-game interview. “Each individual guy held the ball too long, we didn’t keep it poppin’, didn’t get it to the middle. The few times that we did, we got a good look, either a kick-out for an open shot or a shot, so that’s something we gotta go back to work on tomorrow.”
The change proved effective offensively for the Chargers as the Raiders were keeping them at bay with at least a five point lead until the 12:49 mark when the Chargers took the lead at 66-65.
Raiders sophomore guard Anthony McIntosh ended the scoreless drought and 11-point Charger run by making a pair of free-throws to cut the lead to 72-67 with around nine minutes to play.
“Even though (McIntosh) was off tonight with his shot,” Bronkema said. “He had seven assists and two turnovers, he was playing basketball the way we needed him to play. Everybody being bought in to the way we want to play was key.”
Fox was a dominant force for the Chargers as he notched a double-double, he muscled through the Raiders to secure 13 rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds which turned into second chance opportunities. Fox used those opportunities to contribute 19 points Wednesday night.
After each team traded baskets for the next five minutes of gametime, the Raiders found themselves down by 10 points with 55 seconds to play.
The Raiders needed to catch a break.
“The coaches kept telling us to keep our composure,” Davison said post-game. “All the coaches, from the head coach all the way down to the assistant coaches to keep our head and keep our composure.”
Out of a Raider timeout, Pangborn drove to the rim and was fouled. He converted the free-throw to cut the Charger lead to 92-85. The Chargers turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, Pangborn made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four points with 46.6 to play. Davison committed a foul to stop the clock and put Charger sophomore guard Ty’Sean Sheppard at the line.
As the players were lining up for Sheppard to shoot a one-and-one, a commotion arose in stands as a fight broke out between two female fans. After a beverage and punches were thrown, GRCC Police detained the women and escorted them out of the facility.
The officials called an Official’s Timeout for the fracas to settle. This was seemingly the break the Raiders needed.
Sheppard missed the front end of the one-and-one then Davison made a 3-pointer in the left corner to give bring the game within one point.
Charger sophomore guard Jair Rodgers missed the front end of a one-and-one on the next possession, which gave the Raiders the opportunity to take the lead with a made field goal.
Davison’s composure proved to be the difference in the last 10 seconds.
McIntosh curled from the left wing to the right wing with roughly 10 seconds to play in regulation. Davison caught a pass and immediately pulled up for a 23-foot jump shot. Davison, the Raiders and everyone in the gym knew that the shot would fall the second it left his fingertips. The shot found the bottom with 6.5 seconds remaining, capping off the miraculous 12-point run in 50 seconds, and sending Gordon Hunsberger Arena into a frenzy.
“That’s big,” Davison said. “That’s what we dream of as little kids, to hit shots like that. Big game, a big shot like that, I told myself, ‘this is a good team, they’re number one in the nation for a reason, they’re a good team. If we give them another chance on offense, it might look bad for us.’ We had to close it on that shot, and we did that job.”
Following a timeout from the Chargers, they inbounded the ball and drove quickly down the floor, they missed the initial layup then attempted a put-back shot, which rolled off the front of the rim and out and was swatted away as the clock expired.
“It feels great especially in the circumstance that we won,” Bronkema said about knocking off the No. 1 ranked team in the country. “It’s a great feeling.”
Pangborn shared the sentiment with his coach and teammates.
“It feels awesome,” Pangborn said. “I just can’t even put the words together, it’s awesome. We needed this win, it was a good win for the team to come together like this.”
Pangborn also is excited for the rest of the season and what is in store for the Raiders in the postseason.
“This just shows that we can compete with anybody,” Pangborn said. “They’re the number one team in the nation and we just knocked them off. This just means that we can play with anybody and gives us the confidence. We just have to come back on Saturday and not have a downfall.”
Wednesday’s win moves the Raiders into sole-possession of second place in the conference standings. They will put that position on the line when they hit the road to Kellogg Community College to take on the Bruins on Sat., Feb. 24 with tip-off scheduled for 3 p.m. The Raiders’ final home game of the season is the following Monday against the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Cougars on Sophomore Night with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.