By Shane Madden
The Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team defeated the Mid-Michigan College Lakers, 82-73, led by spectacular performances from freshman guards Sally Merrill and Marlene Bussler.
Merrill led the team with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, netting herself another double-double. Bussler had a monster game, scoring a career-high 24 points and shooting four of six from the 3-point line. Freshman forward Grace Lodes added 14 while freshman forward Allison Kellogg scored 12.
“All together probably one of our best team wide efforts of the year,” said GRCC head coach David Glazier. “Our focus was more fine-tuned… had real direction and real understanding of the game plan as a whole.”
The fast-paced, sharp-shooting Lakers got out to a hot start in the first quarter, hitting four of seven from the 3-point line. They continued to let the three fly from start to finish but couldn’t maintain the efficiency, hoisting 30 but only making 10. The Raiders turned this to their advantage, netting extra possessions while out rebounding their opponent 51-36 with freshman forward Karissa Ferry pulling down nine and Kellogg with seven.
Merrill caught fire in the second, scoring 14 and drilling two 3-pointers giving the Raiders a three-point lead as they headed to halftime, 39-36.
The second half told the story of a team with confidence and momentum. The Raiders moved the ball with purpose, making crisp passes to find open shooters as they slowly built their lead throughout the third.
GRCC headed into the fourth quarter with a five-point lead but Bussler wasn’t done yet. She took over and scored 11 to finish off the Lakers 82-73. Her offensive outburst came as no surprise to Glazier.
“(We might not expect) 24 or 25 a game from her, but in recruiting her and watching her play in high school, you just get the sense she’s the type of kid that can do that from time to time,” Glazier said. “When she’s seeing the floor well and she’s finding the open player it means really good things for us. Spectacular game for her. Very efficient”.
Another win for the Raiders brings them to six in a row, and winning 10 of their last 12, despite early season woes.
“This is a group of all freshmen learning to play college basketball,” Glazier said. “The speed and the strength of the players is a lot different. We played three final four teams during the early part of the season. We really challenged ourselves at the start of the season and it’s paying dividends now. Nothing rattles these kids anymore.”
The 11-7 Raiders look to maintain their hot streak as they head to Battle Creek to face Kellogg Community College Monday, Jan. 31, at 5:30 p.m.