The Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team’s season came to end Thursday night as they lost to the top-seeded, 20th ranked Lake Michigan College Red Hawks, 47-31 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XII District G tournament at the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.
The Raiders were coming off an emotional, last-second victory over the Jackson College Jets on Tuesday night. They seemed to start Thursday’s game riding a wave of momentum, as they held the Red Hawks scoreless in the first quarter and held a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they couldn’t hang on to the momentum and the Red Hawks returned the favor with a 14-0 run of their own to tie the game midway through the second quarter. The Raiders never seemed to regain their footing after allowing the Red Hawks to come back and went into halftime trailing 21-16.
“We talked about it and that’s a good team,” Raiders’ head coach Dave Glazier said after the game. “To hold them o-for in a quarter, it’s not anything I ever would’ve expected. We talked about it before the game, they were gonna make a run, but we just had to make a run of our own. We got the first one, unfortunately we didn’t get a real good next one.”
Both teams opened the third quarter missing shots, but the Raiders struggled with ball possession, turning it over 24 times in the game. Those turnovers allowed the Red Hawks to get going in the third and build a sizeable, 34-16 lead late in the third quarter. The Raiders only managed to put six combined points on the board in quarters two and three.
“We sometimes forget… just how athletic they (the Red Hawks) are,” Glazier said of the team’s turnover issues. “If you don’t see it every day, it’s really tough to keep that in mind… If they get tired, their bodies aren’t going to let them do the little things that they’ve taught themselves to do sometimes. We forced it a number of times, but that’s kind of been an achilles heel all year.”
Sophomore forward Mya Jordan agreed that turnovers were an issue, but she had a different outlook as to why the team struggled with giveaways.
“Mental mistakes,” Jordan said. “I think it was, we were trying to make the right play, but we were thinking too much about it and we just never got it.”
The Raiders managed to outscore the Red Hawks 11-10 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late as they had dug themselves in too deep of a hole to climb out of.
The Raiders’ season is over, but this team has a lot to be proud of. A season ago, the Raiders were a .500 team going 14-14 and only won six conference games. This season, the improvements have been evident as their 19-11 record and nine conference wins would indicate.
Thursday’s game was Jordan’s last in a Raider uniform. She solemnly reflected upon her time at GRCC following the loss.
“What sticks out to me the most is how close I am to my teammates,” Jordan said. “We started with 10 and we ended with seven so all the hardships and all the problems that we went through brought us closer together and that really stuck with me. So that’s probably the main thing I’ll remember.”
For Glazier, it’s another year in the books. But this team is special to him and this is a season he says he’ll remember forever.
“It’s gonna go down as one of my favorites to be honest,” Glazier said. “Just a core group that just stuck with it. I told them I know I’m hard on them, but this group… they’re resilient… through the highs, the lows… we’ve done so many great things that it’s tough to really reflect right then and there. It’s been a while since we’ve won 19 games in a season. That’s big, not many teams get to 19. So they did too many great things to have this (game) be any sort of reflection on who they were as a team.”
No players were in double figures scoring for the Raiders. Jordan led the team with nine points and added 17 rebounds. Sophomore center Emily Pendred had five points with 10 rebounds while Hallee Breimayer, a sophomore guard, finished with seven points, four assists and three steals.
For the returning Raiders, they’ll have to shift their focus to the 2019-2020 season and try to build on what this year’s team was able to accomplish.
As for the tournament, the Red Hawks move on to the tournament championship game where they will meet the Mid Michigan College Lakers on Saturday, March 9 at 3 p.m. in the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.
The men’s bracket will take center stage on Friday. The Ancilla College Chargers will face the Glen Oaks Community College Vikings at 5:30 p.m. That game will be followed by the nightcap of the top-seeded GRCC men’s basketball team hosting the Lakers of Mid Michigan at 7:30 p.m. The winner of these two games will face off in the NJCAA Region XII District 9 championship game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.