By Shane Madden
The Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team punched their ticket to the postseason, Saturday Feb. 12, as they defeated Lansing Community College, 66-50.
Freshman forward Grace Lodes led the offense on the way to a double-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. But she wasn’t alone. Freshman guard Sally Merrill hustled for a double-double of her own, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams came out shooting in the first and had little trouble finding the bottom of the net. Making shots and pacing each other, the Raiders escaped the first down one, 19-18.
From the start of the second to the final buzzer, the Raiders dominated inside. Outrebounding the Stars 43-20. Outscoring them in the paint 38-20 and scoring 13 second chance points following offensive rebounds.
“I know it sounds a little odd, but it was just defensive effort,” said GRCC head coach David Glazier. “We made a decision to defend with purpose. Good things on offense typically come to teams with high energy on the defensive end.”
Both teams settled in, made adjustments, and the game remained tight through halftime with the Raiders leading 29-28.
GRCC came out of halftime and showed the difference between solid individual defense and great team defense. Working as a unit they held the Stars to just eight points, while racking up 20 of their own.
“We made some small adjustments at halftime,” Glazier said. “Then honestly, Alyssa Katerberg came in and her communication with her teammates was catching. She talked, she directed people and everybody else picked up on it. She was guiding people, and usually when you get one person doing it, it leads to two and three and soon enough the whole team is doing it. That was a big spark for us.”
Katerberg came off the bench to give Lodes a break, but gave no such break to the Stars, blocking three shots and grabbing a steal. This was yet another in a line of valuable performances from the Raider bench.
The Stars picked up their offensive intensity in the fourth quarter, but the damage was done. Raiders win, 66-50.
The Raiders have battled back this season in spectacular fashion. After a few early season losses to top-tier talent, battling through injuries and COVID-19 postponements, they’ve put together a late season run worthy of celebration. Clinching a spot in the National Junior College Athletic Association Great Lakes District A tournament, holding tightly to second place in the conference, with the opportunity to host the game in front of their home crowd.
“There’s always validation that comes with it, and you have to take time to pause and recognize it,” Glazier said. “But I think this team has more that we want to accomplish and so while we celebrated that a little bit last night (Saturday), we know we have some big games in front of us.”
The Raiders look to continue gathering steam for a postseason push, as they head to Battle Creek for a Valentine’s Day matchup with Kellogg Community College on Feb. 14, at 5:30 p.m.