By Kaia Zimmerman
The Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team defeated Bryant and Stratton College, 72-51, in the Great Lakes Tournament Championship to move on to the national tournament for the first time since 1978.
The Raiders faced the No. 1 seed Bryant and Straton in the championship where they won comfortably. Head coach David Glazier said he was excited to win the championship.
“This is pretty bittersweet,” Glazier said. “It’s awesome and I am so happy for these kids. I thought we did a lot of good things. It wasn’t maybe our best overall performance, but (we had) a good first half that we could be proud of that really put us in the driver’s seat, so I am ecstatic over it.”
With the win, the Raiders punched their ticket to the national tournament in North Carolina.
“We are going to be excited to go down there and showcase what we can do,” Glazier said. “It is the first for the program since 1978, so we are very excited.”
The Raiders were led by sophomore Eurasia Green-Boyd who had 18 points, five rebounds, and a steal. Sixteen of those points came in the first half. Green-Boyd knew how important this game was as GRCC hadn’t been to the national tournament in awhile, and it drove her great scoring performance.
“Having the opportunity to go to nationals influenced how I played in the game,” Green-Boyd said. “I was able to execute so well by being confident in my shot, trusting in my ability to knock down the shot and the positivity from the team helped me push harder.”
Sophomore Jayla Bibbs also continued her success securing her second consecutive and fifth overall double-double with 16 points, 19 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks. The Raiders also saw a big contribution from their regular season scoring leader, Shonyah Hawkins who had 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
The Raiders had success all over the court, but the biggest success was on the boards where they outrebounded the Bobcats 61-39, having 32 offensive rebounds, and 27 second chance points compared to the Bobcats six.
In the first quarter the Raiders had a nice start when sophomore Olivia Koetje hit the first shot of the game. The Raiders were led in the first quarter by Green-Boyd who had five points along with Jayla Bibbs who had four points and three rebounds. The Raiders had eight offensive rebounds in the quarter. GRCC held a consistent small lead over the Bobcats for the majority of the first quarter until the final seconds when the Bobcats hit a three to go up by two at the end of the quarter, 15-13.
The Raiders came out explosive going on a 11-0 run to start the quarter. Green-Boyd hit two big threes to give the Raiders a lot of momentum and had a total of 11 in the quarter. Hawkins had six, and sophomore Abigale Rouwhorst came off the bench to contribute six points as well. The Raiders outscored the Bobcats 27-8 in the quarter to give them a significant lead going into the half, 40-23.
The Raiders held their lead throughout the third quarter. Bibbs got her 10th rebound in the quarter to secure the double-double. Freshman Trayanna Starr-Thurman came off the bench and dropped six points in the quarter. The Raiders played great defense to hold the Bobcats to minimal points, and keep their strong lead going into the fourth, 60-39.
The Raiders closed out the game by maintaining their lead throughout the fourth quarter, and shut down any chance of the Bobcats making a comeback with a great defensive performance to end the game and punch their ticket to the national tournament.
The Raiders will travel to North Carolina to play in the national tournament, with the first round scheduled to begin on April 20. Seeding for the National Junior College Athletic Association DII tournament will be announced on Monday, April 12 at 11 a.m.
“I am excited about the nationals tournament,” Green-Boyd said. “ Blessed to have the opportunity to experience this with my team.”