By Kaia Zimmerman
The Grand Rapids Community College Basketball team had a heartbreaking loss against Muskegon Community College on Thursday, April 1, to close out the regular season, losing 55-53.
The Raiders came into the night with an opportunity to share the conference title with the Jayhawks, but with the loss, they will now finish second in the conference standings.
GRCC finished the regular season 10-3 overall, 6-2 in the conference. Sophomore guard Olivia Koetje was happy with how the regular season went and was proud of the team.
“I’m really proud of my team’s overall performance this season,” said Koetje. “We ended with a winning record and a second seed in the conference, so now we just have to come ready for the playoffs.”
It was a tough loss for the Raiders as it came down to the last shot of the game, but head coach David Glazier was happy with the first half performance of the team.
“I loved our first half, but we couldn’t buy anything in the second half,” said Head Coach David Glazier. “I thought our kids competed. That’s what we ask them to do everyday, and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Raiders were led by Koetje who had 14 points and five assists along with sophomore Shonyah Hawkins who had 13 points, five steals and four assists. Sophomore Jayla Bibbs also continued her success on the boards with 19 rebounds along with six points.
The Raiders started out hot in the beginning of the game when Koetje hit two big three-pointers to give the Raiders the momentum early. A lot of shots were falling for GRCC, and they held the Jayhawks on the defensive end, having four steals and three blocks in the first half. The Raiders seemed like they wanted it more than the Jayhawks and were really aggressive on both ends of the court to get them the early lead in the first quarter, 22-10.
The Raiders had a slow start in the second quarter to let the Jayhawks lower the deficit. GRCC still held the lead throughout the quarter, but a slow quarter would put the Jayhawks back in the game. The Raiders were held to eight points in the second quarter, but defensively they only gave up 13 points, keeping the lead for the Raiders, 30-23.
GRCC came out of the half determined to keep the lead, and were successful in the third quarter. The Raiders were led by Hawkins who had six points in the quarter. Allowing them to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the quarter. The Raiders finished the third strong by going on a 7-0 run pushing their lead to 11, 44-33, at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Jayhawks started to cut down the Raiders lead early on. Fouls became an issue for the Raiders as sophomore Danielle Lamancusa, Bibbs, and Hawkins had four fouls early in the fourth quarter. After some missed opportunities on the offensive end by the Raiders, the Jayhawks got within two of the Raiders lead with three minutes to go. The Jayhawks tied the game with two free throws with 1:19 to go in the game, 53-53. Lamancusa fouled out, and shortly after Bibbs fouled out to leave the Raiders without their two starting forwards who lead the team in rebounding this season. The Raiders missed a good shot opportunity to tie the game, so they had to foul with 5.5 seconds left in the game. The Jayhawks missed both free throws to give GRCC a chance to tie or win, but the Raiders missed the final shot to end the game, 55-53.
The Raiders will look to bounce back when they start the playoffs next week in the Great Lakes West Tournament starting on April 6. They are the second seed in the West, and received a first round bye. They will play in the semi-finals on Thursday, April 8 starting at 7 p.m. at the Ford Fieldhouse.
“I’m excited for the playoffs to start,” Koetje said. “We have a great team and we can make it far. We just have to put this loss behind us and focus on our next game now.”