By Sean Chase
The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team welcomed Macomb Community College to the Gordon Hunsberger Arena on Saturday, March 20, losing 79-76. They’re 4-5 on the season.
“Like last game, we got out to a slow start,” said Isaac Anderson, sophomore guard and leading scorer/rebounder for the Raiders. “We just can’t get out to slow starts. We had 14 turnovers in the first half. That hurt us big time.”
Turnovers aside, the game began with the Raiders in front of Macomb, 3-0, as sophomore Chandler Collins and Anderson attacked the basket. The Monarchs responded with two quick 3-pointers to take the lead, 6-0. They were able to extend to 16 points midway through the first half, as GRCC had issues breaking through the Macomb press.
However in the face of another huge deficit going into halftime, the Raiders turned up their own defensive intensity, as Anderson jumped in front of an errant Monarch pass and took it the length of the court for layup. GRCC rattled off six-straight points after that to draw within nine of Macomb, 29-20.
With sophomore Malik Clincy out due to academic issues, freshmen Azyah Brown and Brockton Kohler, along with sophomore Darien Banks helped fill in the gaps on offense for the Raiders.
“Brockton is a guy who has already had (the talent), him and Malik, even during our early practices, they’ve always competed and he is someone who can bring a lot to the table defensively and offensively,” Brown said. “He just has to keep playing hard in his opportunities, as well as the other guys on the bench, who may not see a lot of time. They can bring a lot to the table, it’s just a matter of everyone staying patient and going hard.”
Just as the Raiders began to back Macomb into a corner, the buzzer sounded for halftime, with the Monarchs ahead, 44-33.
“I thought, ultimately, defensively we didn’t get enough stops,” said Jeff Bauer, head coach of the GRCC men’s basketball team. “We let their shooters kind of get away, they had seven first-half threes, which is our bad.”
The Raiders started the second half dominating on the defensive end, forcing the Monarchs to cough up the ball. Which sophomore Richard Major corralled and took the length of the court, before dishing a no-look bounce pass through two Macomb defenders to Collins who laid it in for two points and the GRCC rally was started.
Partway through the second half, the Raiders were able to tie things up, 51-51. However, just as fast as GRCC was able to make things interesting, Major received back-to-back technicals and was ejected from the game. In his absence the Monarchs extended their lead again to double-digits, 73-63. But the Raiders weren’t going to hand the Monarchs their second win of the year, as GRCC mounted another comeback, cutting the Macomb lead to three points in the final seconds of the game.
Playing for the final shot and with a chance to send the game into overtime, Banks pulled up from the 3-point line, that rattled out as the buzzer sounded, with the Monarchs up, 79-76.
Anderson led all scorers in the contest with 27 points, as well as grabbing 18 rebounds and six steals, securing his fifth consecutive double-double on the season. GRCC also received contributions from Brown (12 points, 10 rebounds and one block), his first double-double of the season, Collins (12 points, seven rebounds and one block), Major (four points, six assists and four rebounds), Banks (10 points, two steals and one assist), Kohler (nine points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) and freshman Dasani Darnell (two points and one block).
The Monarchs were led by sophomore Delano Williams with 19 points, to go along with seven rebounds and four steals. Macomb also received contributions from freshman Anthony Danno (10 points and seven rebounds), sophomore Jerry Wilson (18 points), sophomore Josh Marte (14 points, five assists and five rebounds) and sophomore Dante Hudgins (eight points, 11 rebounds and two blocks).
Next the Raiders will face off against Alpena Community College in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re winning, that’s all I gotta say,” Anderson said.
GRCC officials are currently limiting the number of fans who attend games in the Ford Fieldhouse. To catch a livestream of the game go to the GRCC Athletics YouTube channel.