By Shane Madden
The Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team defeated Lansing Community College, Saturday, Jan. 15, in a 66-35 blowout win.
After a disappointing loss Thursday evening, the Raiders couldn’t have asked for a better turnaround. They outshot, outrebounded, and outsmarted the Stars from the start of the second quarter to the final buzzer, solving every zone in the playbook and consistently breaking the opponent’s press coverage.
Freshman guard Sally Merrill led the team, attacking the paint on one end and hosting a block party on the other. She finished with 23 points and four blocks. Freshman guards Emersyn Koepke and Alysia Wesley helped anchor the Raider defense with five steals between them. Freshman guard Marlene Bussler also added 12 points and five assists.
Both teams started the game cold on the offensive side of the ball. The Stars missed contested shots and the Raiders committed a few early turnovers while figuring out the zone coverage. After taking the first quarter to get a feel for the Stars’ gimmicky defense, GRCC turned on the jets and didn’t look back. They finished the first half with a soon-to-be small lead, up 34-22.
“We scout enough, we knew they were going to sit in that zone for most of the game,” said GRCC head coach David Glazier. “We knew they might switch it up. They went to a little 2-2-1 half-court trap, they went a little 1-3-1 (zone) for a couple of possessions. But really, it’s the 1-2-2 zone they stay in for the most part. So we’ve seen enough of that this year that it was really about slowing ourselves down and making the right pass.”
Glazier neglected to share details of what must have been a rousing halftime speech, as the Raiders came out of the half and went on a 20-4 run that lasted the third quarter.
“I think we just talked about ‘hey we had a nice finish to the first half, let’s continue to keep our foot on the gas and continue the things that were working for us,” Glazier said. “To their credit, … they came out and played their roles exactly the way we talked about.”
As solid as the Raider offense was, their defense was better. If the Stars managed to get the ball in the paint, they were met with a swarm of great help defense. When they managed to get a shot off, the Raiders finished defensive possessions with efficient team rebounding. In her return to game action, freshman forward Karissa Ferry racked up 11 rebounds, with freshman forward Tanyla Billups and Merrill each grabbing eight.
“Tanyla Billups came in and locked up, did a nice job on #34 (Skyy Lockhartt). Karissa Ferry was great rebound wise, and we put her on the kid they like to iso a lot,” Glazier added. “So, we just went athletic against athletic betting our player could make the difference, and she did.”
The Stars played a much better fourth quarter, but the damage was done. GRCC would run away with the conference victory, 66-35. The big win brings them to 2-1 in conference play and 6-7 overall.
The matchup scheduled for Monday, Jan. 17 against Glen Oaks Community College has been postponed. The Raiders will look to add another conference win against Muskegon Community College, Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Gordon Hunsberger Arena.
Editors Note: Story was updated Monday, Jan. 17 at 12:07 p.m. to fix an error stating that Merrill’s season high in points was 23, but she previously scored 27 earlier in the season.