The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s basketball team defeated the No. 2 ranked Ancilla College Chargers 85-72 to claim the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II District IX championship.
Saturday’s victory in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference matchup was the second in three games for the Raiders (24-8, 12-6 MCCAA – West) over the highly ranked Chargers (27-3, 17-2 MCCAA – West). The first Raider victory was in February when sophomore guard Curtis Davison hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 6.5 seconds to play. That shot capped off a 12-0 run in the last minute to capture victory over the then No. 1 ranked Chargers.
The Raiders have now won back-to-back District Championships and earned berths in the NJCAA National Tournament in Danville, Illinois after defeating the Mid-Michigan College Lakers in Gordon Hunsberger Arena on Tuesday and then the Jackson College Jets on Thursday. In comparison to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, the beginning of the NJCAA National Tournament is the “Sweet 16.”
The Chargers came into Saturday’s game in the SC4 Fieldhouse in Port Huron with one of the best records in the country, but the Raiders were a thorn in the Charger’s side in the last month following the two Raider victories.
Saturday’s win was led by the sophomore class as guards Anthony McIntosh, Zach Pangborn and Davison all started the game and scored 21, 22 and 29 points, respectively.
The teams battled back and forth in the first half with Ancilla taking the largest lead of the first half when they led 22-13 with around nine minutes to play in the opening frame. Davison gave the Raiders their first lead following the opening stages when he hit a 3-pointer to cap off a 12-3 run over four minutes.
The Raiders trailed as the teams went to the locker rooms by a point at 36-35 despite shooting just 30 percent from the floor.
When the teams returned for the second half, it was more of the same as the teams battled with neither team taking more than a four point lead for the majority of first 15 minutes of the final stanza.
The Raiders then broke the game open when McIntosh made three free-throws with roughly four minutes to play in regulation and that sparked a 12-2 run for the Raiders that lasted over two minutes. Nine of those points were scored by McIntosh himself with those free-throws to go along with a pair of layups.
As the Raiders’ lead increased to 82-72, they were in control of the game and solidified the victory following a common foul and technical foul on Albert Haskins of Ancilla with 39 seconds to play. Since the Chargers were in the double-bonus, McIntosh and Pangborn both shot a pair of free-throws, McIntosh missed both of his attempts and Pangborn split his pair. That gave the Raiders the 83-72 lead before McIntosh made the last layup of the game.
The Raiders next move onto the NJCAA National Tournament to be held at the Mary Miller Center on the campus of Danville Area Community College from March 20-24. The Raiders’ next opponent and seeding are yet to be announced.