For many college basketball teams, a loss in late March means their season is over. Not many teams have a chance to seek redemption in form of a victory.
The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s Basketball team was given that chance to seek redemption after losing Tuesday night to the Danville Area Community College Jaguars 78-70 in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament. They did so in typical Raider fashion by defeating the Ulster County College (New York) Senators 98-88 in the consolation bracket at the Mary Miller Center in Danville, Illinois.
Wednesday’s win moves the Raiders to 25-9 on the season but more importantly, keeps their season alive.
The Raiders victory started with a onslaught of 3-point field goals and points as the Raiders knocked down three triples in the first five minutes from sophomore guard Zach Pangborn and a pair from freshman guard Willie Otole which helped build a 21-8 lead. Freshman guard Ca’Nas Coleman added in three 2-pointers and a pair of free throws to helps spark the Raiders first half run.
Otole started his seventh game of the season and played 34 minutes, which is an uncommon occurrence for him. He contributed four rebounds, two steals and 14 points on 4-7 shooting.
After an impressive first half performance, which was eerily similar to the Raiders matchup against Danville on Tuesday, the Raiders carried a double-digit lead to the locker rooms as they lead 54-36.
Another eerie moment reminiscent of the Danville game was when the Senators opened up the second half with a pair of transition layups following a defensive rebound then a steal on consecutive possessions. The No. 16 seed Senators began to come to life with that sequence and then eventually closed their deficit to as close to 10 points when the Raiders lead 69-59 with just under 12 minutes to play.
Coleman and Pangborn led the Raiders on a 9-2 charge in between the 11 and nine minute marks and that extended the Raider lead to 78-61. Coleman led the way with three offensive rebounds and all of them led to second chance points. Coleman finished with a double-double, 10 rebounds and 18 points on 8-14 shooting.
The Raiders had all five starters and Ryans coming off the bench with double figures. He and Pangborn both scored a team high 19 points shooting a combined 13-27 from the field and 8-16 from the perimeter. Senators sophomore guard Alex Karamanos scored a game high 21 points on 8-12 shooting in 32 minutes of action.
As a team, the Raiders shot 50 percent (36-72) from the floor and 46.9 percent (15-32) from long-range, and outshot the Senators by a wide margin with the Raiders shooting 78.6 (11-14) and the Senators shooting just 61 percent (11-18) from the free-throw line.
The Raiders will take a much needed off day and will play the winner of the Louisburg College and Dakota County College matchup, which tips off at 2 p.m. today. The winner of that game and the Raiders will tip off for a berth in the 7th place game at 10 a.m. Friday in the Mary Miller Center in Danville, Illinois.