College basketball in March, no matter which level, has the adage, survive and advance.
The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s Basketball team did just that, they survived and will advance to the 7th place game in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Tournament following a 99-78 victory over the Dakota County Technical College Blue Knights.
The Raiders’ run in the tournament took a downward turn in the first round loss against the host Danville Area Community College Jaguars when they lost a 19-point late first half lead. The Raiders moved to the consolation bracket and took care of the Ulster County College Senators to secure a matchup against the Blue Knights.
This matchup between the Raiders (26-9) and Blue Knights (23-10) showcased a lot of long-range shooting.
The first five field goals of the contest were 3-pointers, and the Blue Knights took a 9-6 lead in the early stages.
Over the course of the first half, the Blue Knights built up a lead that stretched to as high as eight points. The Raiders made a charge in the latter stages of the first half and eventually took a 38-36 lead with just under four minutes to play in the opening stanza.
In the first half alone, the Raiders had an astounding 10 triples led predominantly by freshman guard Ca’Nas Coleman and sophomore guard Zach Pangborn. The Blue Knights shot better from the floor, perimeter and free-throw line which propelled them to a 48-47 lead to the locker rooms.
The Raiders scored the first eight points in the second half and began to build a lead that would stand until the Blue Knights tied it up at 62 with 11:09 to play.
Pangborn then broke the tie and helped fuel the Raiders to take a lead that they would not relinquish. He scored 11 points of the 15-4 Raiders’ run over a four-minute time frame which bolstered the Raider lead to 77-66 with 7:32 to play in the second stanza.
Pangborn ended the game with 26 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and outside (7-14 from the floor, 5-10 from the perimeter).
Coleman led all scorers with 31 points on 52 percent (11-21) from the field and 66 percent (4-6) from long-range as well as eight rebounds in 39 minutes of action.
A total of five Raiders scored in double figures as freshman guards Darron Ewing Jr., Sammie Ryans and Willie Otole contributed 11, 12 and 15 points respectively. Ewing notched another double-double as he pulled down 10 rebounds.
Friday’s victory gives the Raiders a berth in the 7th place game on Saturday in Danville, Illinois against No. 3 seed Cuyahoga Community College with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m.