By Jackson Heiden
The starters came alive during an offensive shootout Saturday afternoon, but Lansing Community College was too much to handle as the Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team dropped a close one in overtime, 106-98.
The Stars started the game in a zone defense, looking to overwhelm the Raider offense, forcing them to pass the ball around. The Raiders could not find any open looks as they quickly found themselves down 6-0 to start the game before a timeout was called.
The Raiders came off the timeout looking to get things going and that they did. During a seven-minute run halfway through the first half, freshman guard Diego Ledesma led the Raiders on a massive 20-4 run while the last 16 points were scored without the Stars getting a bucket. The Raiders ended the run-up 27-22 before the Stars started to knock down a couple of baskets.
“Diego really kept us afloat in the first half,” said GRCC head coach Joe Fox. “I was happy with the effort. Our offense is built on attacking and I felt those three did a really great job with that, really being intentional about it.”
Ledesma finished the first half with 17 points and ended the game with 25 along with nine rebounds and four assists.
“I’ve been just trying to play basketball,” Ledesma said. “I’ve been trying to learn the system, trying to feed everybody and while trying to produce for myself.”
Defensive rebounding became a problem for the Raiders and the Stars used this advantage to take the lead before the half, walking into the locker room up 49-43.
“We’re just trying to get better as a team,” said redshirt-freshman guard Danyel Bibbs. “We’re a young team full of freshmen, sometimes communication can be better, but we’re growing as a team and need to learn how to be in certain spaces and know how to play with each other.”
The Raiders came out of the break with a slam as Ledesma threw one up to sophomore guard Ryel Daye for the alley-oop to get the Raiders offense going along with putting energy back into the crowd. The Raiders followed the slam by going on a 9-2 run to get themselves back into the game, pulling ahead 52-51 early in the second half.
After a slow first half, Bibbs and redshirt-sophomore guard Andrew Moore provided the offensive boost the Raiders needed to keep pace with the Stars. Bibbs went on to score 14 second-half points (18 total) along with six assists and four rebounds. Moore went crazy scoring 23 second-half points (31 total) while grabbing six rebounds and four steals.
Following the Raiders run, both teams picked right back up where they left off and continued their offensive shootout by trading buckets for the remainder of the half with no team leading by more than six during the second half.
The Raiders would find themselves struggling to pull away as Moore would come in clutch down the stretch scoring 13 straight points for the Raiders to force overtime for the second straight game.
“My teammates keep feeding me,” Moore said. “They put trust in me to lead us and I’m just going to keep being aggressive. Keep attacking.”
Moore’s shooting could only do so much when overtime began as the Raiders offense ran out of gas and the Stars pushed ahead for the win.
“We got to get better as a team,” Moore said. “Everyone has to find something to get better at. I think if we start at that, that’s what being a part of the team is. Once we get that, we’ll start finishing those close games and staying together. We’ll be alright.”
The Raiders look to get back into the win column as they hit the road for another conference game, Monday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. versus Glen Oaks Community College. This game is a makeup game due to a weather postponement on Jan. 5.
“They’re 0-2 and have played two really tough teams,” Fox said. “They’re a nice team. It’s fun to play down there. It’s a small compact gym and is really loud. It’s conducive to our speed, so we’re really excited about it.”