The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s Basketball team secured a 90-73 overtime victory over the Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Gordon Hunsberger Arena on Monday.
The win guarantees the Raiders a second-place finish in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference with a 12-5 record in the conference with one game left in the regular season at Mid-Michigan Community College on Wednesday.
No matter how the game in Mount Pleasant plays out, the Raiders will host a first-round playoff game in Gordon Hunsberger Arena on Tues., March 6, with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.
For the Raiders to win that first-round game, they cannot come out flat like they did Monday against the Cougars.
The Cougars scored the game’s first four points before freshman forward Diego Robinson put the Raiders on the board with a tough layup down-low.
After an exchange in baskets and a couple of missed opportunities from sophomore guard Anthony McIntosh, the Raiders found themselves in a 16-9 hole with just over 12 minutes remaining in the first half.
Following a missed shot, freshman guard Ca’Nas Coleman attempted to steal the ball back from the Cougars offense, but was flipped forward and hit his head on the floor. He sat on the bench for the rest of the first half, but was cleared to return in the second half.
Sophomore guards Curtis Davison and Zach Pangborn, and Robinson led a 15-8 run to give the Raiders a 41-31 lead as the horn sounded for halftime.
Davison and Pangborn scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, and combined for 24 points in the first half. Sophomore forward Tre Humes led with 14 points for the Cougars and sophomore guard Tanner Eubank contributed 12 points of his own in the first half.
The Raiders struggled shooting in the first half at 45 percent from the field (16-35) and that could be attributed to the Cougars 1-3-1 zone defense, a scheme that they the Raiders and Head Coach Luke Bronkema were not expecting.
“We just talked about the zone,” Bronkema said, explaining the adjustments he made in the first half. “They came out in a 1-3-1 which was a new look that they didn’t show us before, we hadn’t seen any film on it and we just wanted to review it. We knew what to do, we just wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page.”
The Raiders opened up the second half with a turnover on a missed alley-oop pass from McIntosh to Robinson that failed.
Each team went on a cold shooting streak, then heated up briefly as the Raiders extended their lead to as much as 14 points.
As the game and competitive spirits were heating up, so were tempers. Coleman was assessed a common foul and a technical foul at the 11:12 mark, the common foul was for a reach-in and the technical foul was called for use of profane language. Bronkema was upset with the call, and the fact he had not received an explanation. When he finally did hear the explanation from the officials, he disagreed with the call and was assessed a technical foul just eight seconds after Coleman’s.
“I think (Ca’)Nas had a couple of choice words,” Bronkema said. “He and I were complaining about the officials. I don’t think the officials affected the game positively or negatively for either team, but Nas got a bloody mouth and another guy kinda looked like he got into his (Coleman) arm pretty good. So Nas swore and got the technical foul. Then I asked for an explaination, got the explanation and let them know I did not think that it was correct, but no foul language from me. But you can’t question the officials, both Nas and I will try to remember that next week.”
Humes knocked down three out of the four free-throws given to him following the sequence. That cut the Raider lead to 59-52 with just over 11 minutes to play in regulation.
Eubank and Humes led the Cougars back as they went on a 17-10 run to close out regulation, their offensive abilities, and some favorable bounces, plagued the Raiders and allowed the Cougars to make a comeback.
The Cougars eventually tied the game at 65 points apiece with 3:39 to play due in large part to Humes and Eubank. They combined for 58 points with 32 and 26 coming from Humes and Eubank, respectively.
Bronkema addressed the issue that his team had to allow the Cougars to fight back into the game.
“It came down to energy and focus tonight,” Bronkema said. “We did not have 40 minutes of energy and focus, we were focused at times but definitely not throughout the entire game.”
Pangborn was fouled with 29.8 seconds to play in regulation and was shooting a one-and-one, which he missed the front end but secured the offensive rebound, which the Raiders finished with 15 rebounds, which helped big time down the stretch.
Following a Raider timeout, McIntosh held the ball on the left wing, very similar to the winning play against Ancilla last Wednesday, this time he drove the ball instead of passing it, he missed the shot and the ball went out of bounds. He was able to prevent the Cougars from catching the ensuing inbounds pass by punching the ball away as the clock expired.
Fans in Gordon Hunsberger Arena were treated to bonus basketball as the game progressed into overtime.
Davison made two consecutive 3-pointers and Pangborn added a third in a row in the first minute to give the Raiders a quick 9-0 edge to open the extra frame.
Eubank was assessed a technical foul with 3:41 to play in the overtime period, supposedly for arguing with the official over an offensive foul on Eubank that he did not agree with.
The Raiders went cold in the next minute as neither team scored a single point since Pangborn’s 3-pointer. Pangborn would eventually break that drought with a free-throw with just under three minutes to play.
Freshman guard Darron Ewing Jr. helped lift the Raiders as he notched a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
“Basically just keep hustling,” Ewing said about his mindset during the game. “Don’t take plays off, don’t lose the ball, those 50-50 balls, we need them. So I go get them, it has to be the whole game, not just the first half. It has to be the whole game.”
Tempers flared in a big way with 2:08 to play in overtime, following a rebound, McIntosh was bringing the ball up the floor for the Raiders. He handled the ball slickly and that frustrated Cougars freshman guard Ken Redfield Jr. Redfield intentionally fouled McIntosh and threw him to the ground violently. Redfield was then assessed a technical foul and an immediate ejection as he began walking towards McIntosh, looking for a fight.
McIntosh’s family had to be restrained by the GRCC Police Department after they entered the court and began walking over to the scrum. The game was halted momentarily as the commotion was settled and Redfield was escorted out of the arena.
The Raiders ended the game on a 11-2 run as the buzzer sounded, giving the Raiders the hard earned victory.
Davison ended the game with 30 points on 44 percent (11-25) shooting, Pangborn contributed 23 of his own to the Raiders on 53 percent (8-15) shooting. Robinson added 10 points of his own to go with nine rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass.
The Raiders will ride their five-game win streak into the regular season finale against the Red Hawks on Wednesday. They will then prepare for their first-round district playoff game with their opponent to be announced at a later time.