By Sean Chase
The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team faced-off against the Lumberjacks of Alpena Community College in the Gordon Hunsberger Arena, on March 23, losing 72-69. Their record is now 4-6 on the season.
“I thought we played great in the first half, but we got a little bit off-track towards the end of the half,” said Isaac Anderson, a sophomore guard for the GRCC men’s basketball team. “I think that’s because of focus, we underestimated this team.”
With sophomore Richard Major serving a suspension from the game against Macomb Community College, the Raiders were looking to have someone step up and propel the team to a fast-start.
“He’s a great leader for us, and we missed him tonight tremendously,” Anderson said when asked about playing without Major on Tuesday. “That’s a big piece of our team. No excuses though, next man up, but missing him, that’s a big negative for us.”
As the first half got underway, GRCC did just that jumping out to a 10-point lead as sophomore Darien Banks found his rhythm from behind the 3-point line hitting four-consecutive shots, all off of passes from Anderson, putting the Raiders up 12-2.
Throughout the first 15 minutes of the first half, the Raiders continued to grow their lead over the Lumberjacks. Led offensively by Anderson, Banks and freshman Dasani Darnell, GRCC eventually went up by 16 points. In the midst of a dominant run, GRCC lost another player momentarily, as Anderson was sent to the bench by the referees after receiving a warning for improperly wearing his mask. However, as halftime approached, Alpena managed to work their way back into the contest, cutting the Raider lead to eight points, 36-28, when the teams went to the locker room.
“We’re a little shorthanded right now, and we just stopped hustling for a five-minute stretch,” Bauer said. “We gave them a couple easy looks, which I thought gave them confidence going into halftime, which carried over into the second half.”
The momentum Alpena had built up before halftime, wasn’t immediately apparent at the start of the second half. GRCC turned up the defensive pressure on the Lumberjacks, and were able to once again push their lead back to double-digits off of a 3-point shot from freshman Brockton Kohler, 49-34.
Just as it seemed the Raiders were going to snap their three-game losing streak, Alpena began to fight their way back into the game. Eliminating the rather sizable GRCC lead to tie things up in the final minutes of the game, 68-68.
From then on, the Lumberjacks managed to get more shots to fall as they took the lead. Which they would hold onto as the final buzzer sounded, winning 72-69.
Even though the Raiders lost, Bauer was happy with how his players ran the offense against Alpena, but noted there are things that need to be improved upon going into the home stretch of the season.
“We needed to get back, because like I said, we weren’t hustling and we were over helping on defense constantly,” Bauer said. “We did a bad job defensively, but offensively we did a good job. We got good looks, they just didn’t fall.”
Banks led all scorers in the contest with 30 points, shooting 6 for 11 from behind the 3-point line, as well as grabbing three rebounds and two steals. The Raiders received contributions from Anderson, who recorded his first triple-double of the season (10 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists), Darnell (13 points, four rebounds and one block), freshman Braden Kleyn (six points), Kohler (seven points and five rebounds), freshman Azyah Brown (three points, five rebounds and one steal) and sophomore Chandler Collins (eight rebounds and one assist).
Alpena was led by freshman Parker Neu in scoring with 27 points, as well as grabbing 16 rebounds. The Lumberjacks also received contributions from freshman Raquan Huntley (16 points, four assists and one rebound), sophomore Cleveland Baker (13 points, two rebounds and two steals) and sophomore Chris DeRocher (five points, 11 rebounds and five assists).
The Raiders will look to snap their four-game losing streak on Friday, March 26, when they travel to Mount Pleasant to face the Lakers of Mid Michigan Community College at 7:30 p.m.
“They’re a good team and they kind of play similar to Alpena,” Bauer said. “So we just gotta do a couple things tougher.”