The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s Basketball team squeaked by the Glen Oaks Community College Vikings 105-97 on Wednesday in Gordon Hunsberger Arena.
The win moves the Raiders to 7-5 in Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference play and 16-8 on the season. The Raiders win in the women’s-men’s doubleheader the evening, and season sweep of the Vikings after a 92-76 win earlier this season. The Vikings remain winless in MCCAA play and fall to 3-20 on the season. Wednesday’s win puts the Raiders into fourth place, one game behind Lake Michigan College and Jackson College.
Early on, the teams were battling with trading baskets and runs that were more in favor of the Vikings as the led multiple times in the first half. Raider sophomore guard, Zach Pangborn, scored early and often for the Raiders as he shot a perfect 2-2 from both the perimeter and the charity stripe en route to a team high eight first half points. Pangborn ended the first half with a pair of 3-pointers to send the Raiders with a halftime lead of 43-40.
“It just felt good to get in that rhythm,” Pangborn said post-game. “Once I got two in, my teammates were looking for me. A lot of credit goes out to them, getting in the paint, kicking it out.”
In the opening half, the Raiders shot 46 percent (14-30) from the field and 54 percent from long-range to secure the first half lead over the Vikings. Pangborn and fellow sophomore guard Darron Ewing Jr. led the way with eight points apiece. Freshman forward Diego Robinson led the rebounding category with a game high seven boards, and three of them coming on the offensive end. David Miller of GOCC went into the break with a first half high 17 points.
“They responded well,” Raiders Head Coach Luke Bronkema said in a post-game interview. “Offensively we actually played well based on the numbers. Defensively we needed to pick it up a little bit.”
Sophomore guard Curtis Davison was held out of the first half for violating team rules.
Pangborn continued his dominance from behind the arc, he made another 3-pointer coming out of the break. That gave the Raiders a 46-40 lead in the early stages of the second half. The teams again traded baskets and going on short runs, this time in favor of the Raiders. McIntosh scored five of the next seven Raider points on one of his signature driving to the hoop and scoring easy layups followed by a 3-pointer.
Frustration then boiled over at the 15:48 mark of the second half as Takary Dreams of the Vikings was assessed a double technical foul and was tossed out of the game. The initial foul was for exchanging with Robinson (who was also assessed a technical foul). But as Dreams walked away, he intentionally bumped Robinson and that was the action that forced him out of the game and back to the locker room.
Davison checked in for the first time after the fouls were settled, and made an impact from the moment he stepped onto the floor. Davison made his first 3-pointer on his first shot of the night just two possessions later. He then made a layup and was fouled, he then converted the three-point-play. He finished the night with 14 points on 40 percent shooting (4-10) from the floor and 37 percent (3-8) from the perimeter.
The second half improvement was helped by impressive ball movement from the Raiders offensive sets and teamwork.
“We continued to share the ball,” Bronkema said. “We basically just stayed focused as a team.”
The defensive struggle remained a constant in the second half as the Vikings had four players in double digits, three of them scoring more than 20 points. Bronkema had a simple fix to that problem.
“We gotta play better defense,” Bronkema said. “We gotta move our feet.”
Pangborn then made consecutive 3-pointers that put the Raider bench into a frenzy. Pangborn turned on the jets to make a series of driving layups to push the Raider lead to as much as eight with just under nine minutes to play.
With roughly 90 seconds to play. Pangborn fumbled a pass, recollected it and made a tough 3-pointer to give himself 30 points for the contest. He later made a free throw and ended with a lifetime and game high 31 points on 40 percent (9-22) from the field and 60 percent (6-10) from deep.
“This game just gives me a little confidence,” Pangborn said. “Curt was out for the first half so I felt that I had to pick it up a little more, they were looking for me and I was on it and it felt good.”
Pangborn looks to instill that confidence into his teammates on Friday night as the Raiders travel to Benton Harbor to take on the Lake Michigan College Redhawks in a showdown for a potential second place position in the standings. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.