By Paul Ce
The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team dominated the Kellogg Bruins Friday night in a blowout victory with a final score of 95-68.
The final score is deceiving though because the game was more competitive than the final indicates.
GRCC won the tipoff and ripped off a 14-2 run to start the game. The Raiders looked fierce and ready to compete, but once they had that big lead, they took their foot off the gas pedal a little.
The Kellogg Bruins pounced on this opportunity and fought tooth and claw to crawl back from their early deficit. They used their perimeter game and well organized defense to stick in the game. They drew multiple charges and fouls, sacrificing their bodies because they were being outmatched athletically and just by sheer depth. The Bruins only had four bench players compared to GRCC’s eight players.
The game continued to be a physical one and the constant fouls the Bruins kept drawing threw the Raiders out of their game. Multiple players for GRCC struggled in the first half, missing a majority of their shots and committing 13 turnovers in the first half.
Straight out of the gate of the second half, the Bruins hit a three to take the lead for the first time in the game. This is when the Raiders snapped out of their funk and started playing their normal game again. They were led by forward Sammie Ryans and Ike Kanu. Kanu though was the battery that powered the second half push. He was everywhere, shutting down the Bruins on defense and pulling down rebounds on offense. Ryans hit four threes in the second half to regain the lead and extended it. Each time he hit a three, the crowd got louder and the team played better showing how much GRCC really feeds off of Ryans.
Ryans discussed his mindset after the game and explained why he wanted to beat them so badly.
“Honestly, stomping on their neck,” Ryans said in a post-game interview. “They’re a lower level team, and we’re the top team in the conference.”
After Ryans started hitting his threes, everyone else started to get going. Guard David Hearns after missing his first eight shots in the first half, made some hard driving layups to get on the stat sheet. Even guys off the bench like freshman forward D’Avery Moore came in to hit some shots and make a highlight reel block that got the crowd groaning from the brutality of it. Ryans even executed a between the legs pass that would’ve made Magic Johnson jealous.
“It was just something new, something light,” Ryans said about the pass.
Head coach Luke Bronkema said after the game that he told his guys, “No matter what, through the ups and the downs of the game, we wanted to play our brand of basketball.” No player represented Bronkema’s words better than guard William Otole. He stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Even when the Bruins were storming back, he never got rattled.
Late in the second half, Kanu got called for a technical foul and when asked about it and all the calls that went against GRCC he said, “it’s conference time, so we got to think about the bigger picture.” That’s exactly what he did finishing the game with the same energy he started with and ended up with 11 points and 20 rebounds.
The Raiders ended the game with resounding thud and were in a celebratory mood, as their cheers could be heard from outside their locker room. They looked focused and ready to move on to the next game where they will face Kalamazoo Valley Community College on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Texas Township, Michigan.