The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers Saturday afternoon as they lost a home game to the Ancilla College Chargers 91-76.
The Raiders came into the game knowing a win would clinch the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference Championship. Ancilla was two games behind them in the standings and a loss to the Raiders would have put them three games back with only two games remaining.
The Chargers seemed to be motivated by this as they came out scoring 12 of the game’s first 14 points forcing Raiders’ head coach Luke Bronkema to take an early timeout. Freshman forward Ike Kanu explained how the team can avoid another slow start in their upcoming games.
“Basically, we have to keep our poise,” Kanu said. “Better attitude starting off the game and executing what (Bronkema) wants us to do. Don’t let referees or adversity, things like little fouls that we don’t get called our way stop us from getting a win in the game.”
The Raiders did manage to weather the early storm and most of the game was evenly played after the slow start. The Raiders struggled from the field shooting 36 percent in the game. Bronkema gave credit to Ancilla’s defense but also thinks shot selection played a role.
“It’s always difficult to score against a good team,” Bronkema said. “I’m sure it was a combination of missing good looks, but it’s also hard to score against quality defense.”
The Chargers played fast the entire game and at times, seemed to frustrate the Raiders’ players and coaching staff. Obviously missing a shot at the conference title is upsetting, but Bronkema talked about how the team has to push forward and get past the frustration of this loss.
“We’ve just gotta keep our same mental focus and move on to the next game,” Bronkema said. “We’ll put all our focus and energy into Kellogg (Community College). We’re taking it one game at a time and now this one’s done and we’re moving onto the next one.”
Kanu echoed Bronkema’s sentiments and says they have no choice but to move forward. The loss didn’t shake the confidence he has in his team, but he did add they’ll need to tweak some things going forward.
“We’ve just gotta move past (the loss) and think about the bigger picture,” Kanu said. “We are the better team, we know what we did wrong today, so we just gotta look back at that and make adjustments.”
Freshman guard Camren Spicer came off the bench and led the Raiders in scoring with 18 points. Sophomores Sammie Ryans and Diego Robinson both had double-doubles while freshman forward D’Avery Moore also had a nice game off the bench with 13 points and six rebounds.
Despite the loss, the Raiders still control their own destiny. A few different scenarios could be played out but the easiest path for the Raiders to win the conference is to win their final two games of the regular season. Ancilla is now just one game behind the Raiders in the standings and the Raiders would probably like to avoid having to scoreboard watch.
The Raiders fall to 13-3 in the MCCAA Western Conference and 20-7 for the season. They’ll try to pick up a win and move closer to a conference title on Monday, Feb. 25 when they travel to Battle Creek, Michigan to face the Kellogg Community College Bruins at 7:30 p.m.