When the calendar flips to March, the college basketball world seems to be turned upside down with a plethora of upsets and comebacks.
The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s Basketball team found that out the hard way on Tuesday when they were eliminated by the Danville Area Community College Jaguars 78-70 in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Tournament.
The Raiders (24-9) started the game on a roll, they opened the game on a 7-2 run in the first six minutes of action against Danville (27-6), who hosted the tournament for the 25th time.
As the first half wore on, the Raiders continued to build a lead led by sophomore guards Curtis Davison, Anthony McIntosh and Zach Pangborn. Davison pushed the Raider lead to 12-4 with under 12 minutes in the opening half when he scored an impressive crossover move into a jump-shot from the left wing.
Freshman guards Ca’Nas Coleman and Sammie Ryans also provided a spark for the Raiders when Ryans made a 3-pointer, which were his only points of the game. Coleman checked in for the first time with under 11 minutes to go in the opening frame. His impact was felt quickly as he snagged the first of his six rebounds (three offensive, three defensive) and put it back off the glass to score the first pair of his seven points on the night.
“Basically we just have to finish the game,” Ryans wrote via Twitter. “We came out with a great start and good energy.”
The Raiders continued to pour in shots and seemed to kill any momentum that the Jaguars had following each basket. Each Raider made basket and defensive stop kept the home crowd subdued throughout the first half.
That momentum for the Raiders helped them to push their lead to as much as 19 with 6:02 to play in the first half when McIntosh rattled in a layup. The Jaguars closed the first half on a 4-0 run to cut the Raiders lead to 44-29 when the horn sounded for the break.
Shooting was the strong point for the Raiders in the first half as they shot 48 percent (15-31) from the field and 38 percent (5-13) from long range while the Jaguars shot 35 percent (11-31) from the floor and just 14 percent (1-7) from the perimeter.
The second half was a polar opposite of the first. The Jaguars, led by sophomore Jake Chilton, opened up the second half on a 14-4 run that cut the Raider lead to just five points, and all of those points were scored by Chilton himself. That run brought the home crowd to life and that seemed to affect the Raiders as they began to shoot poorly and make mistakes on consecutive possessions.
Jaguars freshmen Jayvon Landon and Lavelle Smith continued the charge for their team and began to force the Raiders to make those mistakes and questionable shots. That has been a weakness for the Raiders this season.
As the miscues piled up, frustration also began to rise and the tension was broken with 7:21 to play when McIntosh was assessed a common foul and technical foul for foul language and arguing with the official. Which gave him four personal fouls at that point, he would later foul out with a team high 18 points. Raiders Head Coach Luke Bronkema was then assessed a technical foul two minutes and ten seconds later for arguing with the official over the foul call on McIntosh.
The Jaguars tied the game with just over four minutes to play on a slick move from Freshman Jamil Wilson with a crossover and drive on the right side for a layup. Wilson kept pouring in points and eventually took the lead on their next possession which sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
“The second half came around and we got complacent,” Ryans wrote. “Our energy died down and Danville went on a great run.”
As desperation began to set in, the Raiders took 3-pointers to try to bring themselves back into the game, but their effort came up short, and the Jaguars celebrated in front of their home fans as they moved to the quarterfinals where they will take on the Triton College Trojans on Thursday.
While the Raiders will not win the elusive championship, but they have the opportunity to play in the consolation bracket where they will take on the Ulster County College Senators on Wednesday with tip-off scheduled for 4 p.m.