By Paul Ce
The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders won a statement win of 83-70 against the Mid Michigan Lakers Monday night at the Ford Fieldhouse.
This game showcased why the Raiders are in first place in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference.
The Lakers won the tip-off and came out fast and strong against the Raiders and held an 11-5 lead to start the game. However the lead wasn’t built to last. Freshman guard Cam Spicer and freshman forward D’Avery Moore came off the bench to spark some life into the game for the Raiders. They got the team to settle down and helped find their rhythm. Spicer’s dominant perimeter defense and pinpoint passes to sophomore forward and team captain Sammie Ryans are what got the team reaching its full potential.
Spicer has come along well as a sixth man and team spark plug as the season has progressed.
“It’s a role I’ve learned to embrace because I love distributing the ball more than anything… and I love playing defense and that’s going to bring energy (to the team),” Spicer said.
The Lakers got key contributions off the bench through sophomore guard Kareem Alamm, who had nine points in the first half. The Lakers outplayed the Raiders in the paint recording 16 points compared to just 10 points by the Raiders. This helped Mid Michigan lead 37-35 at the half.
After the half, the Raiders came bursting out of the seams and it seemed everyone on the floor was hot. Ryans and sophomore guard Willie Otole both finished the game with 22 points. They were both crucial as they hit big threes every time the Lakers would try to make a run. This was a familiar picture as Otole and Ryans have led the Raiders all season, being the leader that guided their teammates on the floor.
Otole’s veteran leadership and excellent communication was advantageous for the Raiders. He spoke about his growth as a leader after the game.
“I’m a second year player, so I kinda know what to say and know how to keep people focused and in the game,” he said.
The Lakers also lost the advantage in the paint as sophomore forward Ike Kanu came out and dominated on the block. He boxed out the opposition on defense for every missed shot and offensively made a living off of going hard to the rim. He ended the game with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
“I just go hard, trust myself, take my time, and execute my plays,” Kanu said after the game.
The Lakers tried desperately to come back and even hit a few threes toward the end of the second half, but could not fight back against the mountain of momentum that the Raiders had built for themselves.
The Raiders are still missing three players – Diego Robinson, Evan Block, and Robert Dohm – who are serving the last of a two-game suspension due to stepping on the court against Lansing Community College, but had plenty of players to fill their roles Monday night.
Raiders’ head coach Luke Bronkema explained how the team has managed to keep winning with these suspensions.
“It’s a next guy up mentality, so the next guy up stepped up and honestly everyone stepped up a little bit.”
The Raiders are now 18-6 overall and 11-2 in conference play. They will face the Lake Michigan College Red Hawks at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 on the road in Benton Harbor, Michigan.