The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders Men’s basketball team defeated the Mid-Michigan Community College Lakers 79-76 in overtime on Wednesday in a Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference matchup in Gordon Hunsberger Arena.
The victory gave the programs a split of the men’s and women’s doubleheader, in which the Lakers’ women’s team won the early matchup 64-62.
Wednesday’s victory also moves the Raiders to 6-3 in MCCAA play and 14-6 overall with just eight games remaining in the regular season and gives the Raiders three consecutive victories.
The game started fast for both teams, and sloppy at times as each team struggled to hold on to the ball and score the basketball. The Raiders opened up the scoring on a layup from sophomore guard Anthony McIntosh as he moved with impressive speed to score the opening basket.
Sophomore guards Zach Pangborn and Curtis Davison both made 3-pointers, and each made a tough, contested long-range jumper early on to spark a run by the Raiders. Davison and Pangborn went to into halftime with 15 and 8 points, respectively.
Midway through the first half, the Raider defense stood tall against the Laker attack as three consecutive possessions ended in blocks for the Raiders. Freshman guard, Ca’Nas Coleman had a pair of blocks in that sequence and finished with a game high of four blocks.
Freshman forward, Diego Robinson, was a force down-low for the Raiders, he secured 17 rebounds, with five of them coming on the offensive glass. Robinson also finished the game with nine points and was a near-perfect 5-6 from the free-throw-line, where he had been known to struggle as a roughly 30 percent free-throw shooter on the season.
The Raiders had two downfalls that let the Lakers back into the game in the second half. The first, and more prevalent issue was sloppy passing and giving the ball away 23 turnovers in the game. The second issue was another mental issue – technical fouls. Coleman was assessed a technical foul at the 8:53 mark for disobeying the official when he was told to back up after a foul. Davison was assessed the foul with 4:30 to play in the second half when he argued a call with the official.
“It’s a mental thing, and both of them were deserved,” said Raiders Head Coach Luke Bronkema in a post-game interview. “Ca’Nas didn’t even say anything, he just didn’t back up when the official asked him to back up. That one he didn’t comply with the official, it wasn’t anything egregious. Curtis’ was frustration about a missed foul call. That was out of frustration and all we can do is talk about it in practice.”
The Raiders led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but the Lakers flexed their muscles and fought their way back even to take the lead briefly late in regulation. Then sophomore guard, Darron Ewing Jr. rattled off a six-point sequence in which he made a jumpshot from the perimeter, then scored a layup and made a free-throw to convert another 3-point play on the next possession. This was a big moment for the Raiders as momentum slowly started to shift back to the them.
With less than 10 seconds to play in regulation and the score at 70-69 in favor of the Raiders, Spence DeMull of MMCC stole the ball from Pangborn and attempted the go-ahead layup but the ball was blocked away and DeMull was fouled hard by Davison. DeMull then missed the first free-throw then Bronkema called a timeout to put Robinson back into the game to secure the rebound if needed. DeMull then missed the ensuing free-throw and Robinson did his job and secured the rebound, but fouled DeMull in the process. DeMull then went back to the line with 2.3 seconds to play and split the pair of free throws which tied the score at 70.
Davison caught the ensuing inbound pass after the made free-throw and attempted a half-court heave to win the game, but the shot was off and the fans in Gordon Hunsberger Arena were treated to an extra five minutes of basketball.
“It just got really messy there at the end for the last five minutes of regulation,” Bronkema said. “That’s the first thing that comes to my mind about the game, after the fact we were able to get the win.”
Bronkema and the Raiders knew that DeMull missing those free-throws at the end of regulation was an absolutely critical moment.
“Considering the fact that the guy (DeMull) had four free-throws and he needed two of them to win it, and he only made one, we were excited,” Bronkema said. “We were excited at that point to go get the win in overtime.”
Overtime was dominated by the Raiders as they found a way to step on the gas and led by as many as seven points in the extra frame. The Lakers cut the Raider lead to two points with 35 seconds to play. On the Raiders’ ensuing possession, Pangborn was fouled on a shot as the shot clock expired, the officials called a shooting foul on MMCC, which was a call the Laker coaching staff disagreed with. Pangborn split the free-throws and the Lakers tried a desperation shot to try and tie the game which missed off the backboard.
“Pretty much play solid, play defense,” Ewing said post-game. “Even if we do take bad shots, get back on defense and keep hustling, no matter what.”
The Raiders’ composure when the Lakers came back to tie the game and take the lead late in the second half led them to the hard-fought victory.
“We just couldn’t lose our composure,” Ewing said. “We had to stay solid, like I said. Really keep playing defense and don’t worry about losing or nothing like that. Just have confidence that we are going to win the game and pull it through.”
The Raiders look to move their win streak to four on Saturday as they travel to Jackson College for a MCCAA Western Conference matchup against the Jets. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the Raiders’ next home game is at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 7, when they host the Muskegon Community College Jayhawks.
EDITORS NOTE: Story corrected as MMCC Men’s team was not ranked at the time of the game.