If ever there was a definition for the term “tale of two halves,” the Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team’s win on Friday night over the No. 14 ranked Muskegon Community College Jayhawks is it.
The Jayhawks opened the game on a 10-0 run forcing Raiders’ head coach Dave Glazier to call a timeout and regroup. It wasn’t until near the four-minute mark that the Raiders finally got points on the board courtesy of an Aaliyah Sargent mid-range jumper.
Just prior to Sargent’s basket, Glazier sent in three subs from the bench in an effort to shake things up on the court. After the game, he spoke about the decision to get some fresh players in the lineup.
“It was in part to light a spark,” Glazier said. “But, every kid on this squad is working hard and deserves to play. And what an opportunity… They went in and did their thing and they did a really nice job for us.”
Even with the spark, the Raiders could only manage four points in the first quarter and as the second quarter began, the Jayhawks were still distancing themselves. They hit a three-pointer in the opening seconds of the second quarter to take a 15-4 lead.
A second, bigger spark for the Raiders came when some of the starters came back in. They went on a 9-4 run that was highlighted by a Hallee Breimayer three that closed the gap to 17-13 with 3:30 to play in the half. Unfortunately for Breimayer, just minutes after her three, she fouled a shooter and was hit with a technical giving the Jayhawks four free throws. They took advantage of the opportunity and took a 10-point, 25-15 lead into halftime.
“Halftime, it was just kind of a — I just challenged them,” Glazier said of his message to the team in the locker room. “I just challenged them to be mentally ready to play the final 20 minutes. First quarter, I was concerned but we made a really nice change of pace in the second quarter. So we just talked about mental stuff. And they answered the bell, that’s all them.”
Glazier wasn’t the only person to say some words of inspiration at the half. Sophomore forward Mya Jordan and her fellow team captains addressed the energy of the team.
“Before coach even got down there, me and some of the other captains addressed some of the… little things that we saw,” Jordan said. “We talked about what we needed to do and how we have to come out with more energy and stay together as a team.”
At the start of the third quarter, a more focused and determined looking Raiders team took the court, and the change was instant. Rayven Mondy hit a three and sparked a 12-2 run in the first 90 seconds of the quarter that allowed the Raiders to take their first lead of the game.
The contributions in the third quarter were coming from the entire lineup. Jordan helped lead the charge while freshman Carlee Odom hit back-to-back threes to further the Raiders lead. With players like Kendall Griffioen, Emily Pendred and Mondy all adding to the onslaught, the Raiders outscored the Jayhawks 26-11 in the third quarter to go into the fourth leading 41-34.
“After we came out of the locker room (at halftime), we were all kind of still upset about how we played the first half,” Jordan said. “But when we pulled it together, everyone cheered for everyone and once everyone gets their energy going, you can’t really stop it.”
In the fourth quarter, both teams played an evenly matched game. With the Raiders holding a slight lead, the Jayhawks spent the last minute of the game fouling the Raiders in hopes to make a comeback. When it was all said and done, the Raiders held on to get a huge 51-47 win.
Glazier was proud of the total team effort he saw from his squad on Friday night and highlighted a few players that stuck out to him.
“I mean, Griffioen… probably the best game she’s had in the jersey for us,” Glazier said. “She (was) as confident as we’ve ever seen her play before. Carlee (Odom), I mean, those were two big shots. Ice water in her veins.”
Pendred was another player Glazier heaped praise on after the game. She was tasked with guarding Delaney Bolles, one of the best players in the conference. Bolles averages around 21 points per game and Pendred held her to 2-of-9 shooting for a total of four points.
“Hat’s off to Emily (Pendred) for doing exactly what she thought she could do,” Glazier said. “And she still rebounded and got points.”
In every sport and every season, there are turning points. Sometimes a team can look back at a specific moment in the season and draw inspiration from it. Jordan thinks this win over an 18-3, first in the conference ranked opponent can be that moment for the Raiders.
“This is a huge win for us,” Jordan said. “This just proves to us that we can beat any team in this conference. We can still play with them… I think that gave us our confidence back.”
Jordan was the high scorer for the Raiders with 12 points adding 10 rebounds to give her a double-double. Mondy added 10 points while all but one player who entered the game added points in the winning effort.
The win keeps the Raiders in the upper echelon of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference. They improve to 13-8 on the season and will have the weekend off before getting back to it on Monday, Feb. 11 when they visit the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Cougars in Texas Township, Michigan at 5:30 p.m.