The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team lost to Ancilla College 78-59 on March 6 in the NJCAA District Tournament semi-finals.
The Raiders lost every matchup this season to the Chargers (0-3). GRCC was seeded sixth in the district tournament and were the fourth team to be eliminated from the western region.
In one of their poorest shooting performances this season, the Raiders began the first half in a drought. They shot 11.1% from behind the arc (22.2% field goal) as Ancilla built a 43-25 lead. The Raiders began and finished the game playing for themselves, as selfishness with the ball was present on multiple occasions. This led to blown transitions, 20 turnovers, and a lack of concentration on the flow of the game.
The second half was a resemblance of the first for the Raiders – continuing to force passes that turned into turnovers, an extra pass that could have resulted in an easy bucket, and no verbal communication. The game ended with the Raiders shooting a mere 27.6% from the field (2/20 three-point). The Chargers dominated the paint with a 52-35 point advantage, although shot 41.2% overall and 14.3% from behind the arc.
Ancilla was led by multiple players – forward Isiah James (13 points, six rebounds), guard Rico Swanson Jr. (12 points, eight rebounds, three steals), and forwards Cortney Shorter and Shak Johnson with 11 points each.
The Raiders roster for the 2019-20 season listed three sophomores of all 14 players. With the team growing closer and already building chemistry between the first-year players for next season, Raiders’ Head Coach Jeff Bauer hopes to continue building his team. Next season will be Bauer’s second season as a head coach and he explained what the team’s focus will be going forward.
“I took this job last minute and spent the first two months of the season getting acquainted,” he said. “We have a long way to go and still have to figure out how we can play best. We played individually and not together. We need to become more physically and mentally sound which I believe will happen.”
The Raiders’ offense was led by freshman forward Jaylen Williams (14 points, three assists) – receiving contributions from sophomore forward Johnny Davis (12 points, 13 rebounds, four steals), freshman guard Ryel Daye (12 points, seven rebounds), and freshman forward Chandler Collins (10 points, six rebounds).
Reflecting on next season, Daye weighed in on the Raiders’ potential with multiple first-year players returning, stating, “Next year we want to come together more, we weren’t very together this year. With multiple players returning we expect to do a lot more on the floor.”
Lack of communication was a common factor for Raiders’ losses this season, although not the only one. Freshman guard Darien Banks gave input on what he wants to accomplish as a team next season.
“I hope we can see what we’re doing wrong and coach notices,” Banks said. “We need to acknowledge, work on, and get rid of those problems so we can be champions next year.”
Ancilla will now move on to the NJCAA championship game against Muskegon Community College. The game will be on March 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the Ford Fieldhouse. Admission is $8 to the public (free for any child nine/under) and free for any individual with a GRCC student I.D.