By Kaia Zimmerman
Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team got the win over Oakland Community College, 71-52, in the semi-final round of the NJCAA Great Lakes tournament to move on to the championship.
The Raiders were led by Sophomore Jayla Bibbs who had 26 points, 16 rebounds, and seven steals securing her fourth double-double of the season.
“If you are on another team and you are not ready for Jayla Bibbs, you are going to be in trouble with us,” said head coach David Glazier. “She gets us so many second possessions, she ends so many possessions on defense, and she is a tough kid to guard and a tough player to get ready for.”
The Raiders also had a standout performance from sophomore Shonyah Hawkins who had 20 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and two steals.
“I just wanted to prove to myself that I could play in a playoff game,” Hawkins said. “I haven’t played in a playoff game since my senior year of high school, so I was excited to prove to myself that I could still play at a high level in crunch time.”
The Raiders had a slow start and were down by five early on, but a great performance by Bibbs put GRCC in the game. In the first quarter, Bibbs had seven points, four steals, two rebounds, and one block. The Raiders defense came up big to hold Oakland to minimum points. By the end of the first quarter GRCC went on a run to put them within one of Oakland, 14-13.
In the beginning of the second quarter, the Raiders took their first lead of the game, 15-14. The Raiders were led by Hawkins who had eight points in the second quarter along with Bibbs who had six. GRCC started to heat up when they went on a 10-0 run midway through the quarter to give them a 29-19 lead with four minutes to go in the half. The Raiders defense again stepped up to make good plays to hold Oakland to only 12 points in the quarter, as GRCC pulled ahead going into halftime, 31-25.
The Raiders have had a lot of success in the third quarter this season out-scoring teams 263-151, and continued the success against Oakland overwhelming them 24-8 in the quarter. The Raiders came out of the half with a lot of energy that sparked a 13-0 run led by sophomore Eurasia Green-Boyd who had five in the quarter along with Bibbs who had nine.
Bibbs got her 10th rebound at the seven minute mark to secure her fourth double-double of the season. GRCC’s defense stepped up again, and didn’t allow a single point for Oakland until the five-minute mark. The Raiders expanded their lead by the end of the quarter, going up 55-33 with one quarter to play.
Oakland started to full-court press the Raiders, causing some turnovers that put them within 12 of GRCC early in the fourth quarter. The Raiders, who were led by Bibbs again, stepped up making big plays on both ends of the court to stop the run, and ended the game winning comfortably, 71-52.
Along with Bibbs and Hawkins, the Raiders also had contributions from sophomore Olivia Koetje (11 points, two rebounds, and one assist), Green-Boyd (six points and four rebounds), and sophomore Danielle Lamancusa (four points, six rebounds, and one block).
The Raiders are excited for the win and the chance to play in the tournament championship. This is the first year Glazier has made it to this championship game, and he is excited to see what they can accomplish.
“I am excited,” said Glazier. “This is the first one I have gotten to, so we are going to take it all in stride and see what happens.”
The Raiders traveled to Pepper Pike, Ohio to face the No. 1 seed Bryant and Stratton College in the Great Lakes West Tournament Championship on Saturday, April 10 where they won to secure a place in the national tournament.
“I am excited to be back in the championship game,” said Bibbs. “I haven’t been to a championship since my freshman year, so I am really excited for this.”