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Merrill goes off, Raiders stay hot

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Freshman Sally Merrill drives to the outside (Kristen Schestag)

By Shane Madden       

The Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team handily defeated Glen Oaks Community College, 72-58, behind a stellar offensive outpouring from freshman guard Sally Merrill. 

“That’s a kid who just comes to play,” said GRCC head coach David Glazier. “Not bad for running on four hours of sleep.  She had been to Florida, went on a (school) visit… flew out Saturday after the game, did the workout Sunday, flew back home.” 

Merill didn’t miss a beat. Seven seconds into the game, one pass from the opening tip, she stepped into a wide open 3-pointer from the wing and didn’t let off the gas until halftime. She scored 18 points in the first half alone, nearly outscoring the Vikings entirely as she drove the lane for floaters and pulled up from mid-range. She finished with 26 on the night, in reduced minutes as the Raiders began to pull away in the second half.  

“She has been really vital for us,” Glazier said. “Very consistent, and that consistency is catchy. When teammates see that one of the leaders on the squad is performing consistently it forces others into that habit.”   

Team effort and energy also played a huge role in tonight’s win, from the opening quarter where the Raiders forced eight turnovers and grabbed eight offensive rebounds, to the final buzzer. Ten players got in the scoring column and 11 grabbed rebounds. The Raider bench outscoring the Viking reserves 25-1. 

“Karrissa Ferry continues to play well, though she’d tell you otherwise. She made a nice defensive adjustment for us, keeping No. 4 (Zharia Hotobah-During) away from the hoop,”Glazier said. “Koepke is on all the time. Allison Kellogg gave us a nice little spark off the bench. Everybody who played tonight found a way to help us.” 

The Raiders continued their hot streak and carried their early momentum through the final buzzer. Raiders vanquish Vikings, 72-58. 

After eight wins in a row, comes an interesting late season hurdle. The Raiders have lost one game in the last month, to the first-in-conference Jackson College Jets, whom they host to defend their win streak and their bid for the conference championship, Wednesday, Feb. 9, at the Gordon Hunsberger Arena at 5:30 p.m.   

“We need the team effort,” Glazier said. “Coach Brown has them rolling. They do a lot of things well, a lot of things we struggle with. So we are really going to have to focus.”