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Raiders drop season finale in shootout fashion

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Ryel Daye goes up for the layup (Kristen Schestag)

By Jackson Heiden

The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team dropped the season finale, Wednesday night, in a shootout, as Ancilla College marches on to the win 116-99.

The Raiders’ started the game slowly as they quickly found themselves down 20-5 with just under five minutes into the game. 

“They shot the ball really well all night from three,” said GRCC head coach Joe Fox. “They take a bunch of them as a team, and so early on, they hit a couple really quick, fast-breaking transition opportunities.”

The Raiders called a couple of timeouts during this span in an attempt to disrupt their run, but this did very little as the deficit worsened, finding themselves down 43-24 with four minutes to play in the first half. 

The Raiders’ cold shooting continued till the halftime buzzer rang as they scored only nine points for the remainder of the half. The Raiders went into the locker room with hopes of coming out with energy to mount a steep comeback. 

“I told my guys that a lot of their scores this season at home have been in the 100s to 110s,” Fox said. “If you want to keep up and have a chance in the game, you’re gonna have to be up there.”

The second half did not start as expected for the Raiders’ as an early three by the Chargers’ to start the half made things look even worse. The Chargers took advantage of the missed three-pointers by the Raiders and built themselves a comfortable 71-44 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the half.

As the cold offense kept getting colder, the Chargers’ lead kept getting bigger as they grew a huge 98-67 lead with about nine minutes remaining in the first half. With postseason play already out of the picture, the Raiders were looking for anything to try to end their season on a bit of a high note.

As we have seen throughout most of the season, the offense finally started working as the final nine minutes were all Raiders. They took their 31-point deficit and brought it down to a 17-point deficit before the final buzzer rang, this run making it look not as bad as it was previously in the game.  

“We scored 64 points in the second half, which is one of our highest point totals all year,” Fox said. “We moved the ball a lot better and had some assists, created for others and I thought we did a nice job with that.”

Although the Raiders’ scored the most points in a half all season, the Chargers’ found a way to shut down their scoring and rebounding machine, sophomore guard Ryel Daye. The Chargers’ limited Daye to seven points, along with 11 rebounds and six assists. Daye finished the season second in the conference averaging 11.9 rebounds per game. 

“He had a really nice night defensively rebounding the ball once again,” Fox said. “I think he was a little more than average on rebounds, but he did a nice job moving the ball…just couldn’t get the shot going…it was just one of those nights.”

The Chargers also put enough pressure on the Raiders’ top 3-point shooter, redshirt-freshman guard Brockton Kohler, only allowing him to score nine points and grab eight rebounds. On a brighter note for Kohler, he was wearing the No. 10 jersey tonight, to honor the Raiders’ redshirt-freshman forward Nyuon Nhial, who suffered an unspecified season-ending knee injury Monday night. 

The Raiders were thankful to have their redshirt-freshman guard Danyel Bibbs back for the night as he went on a tear, scoring 32 points off the bench in addition to six assists and three rebounds.

“He did a really nice job,” Fox said. “He played really well against them the first time and so it was nice to see him continue that success.”

Redshirt-sophomore guard Andrew Moore finished his tenure with the Raiders’ scoring 24 points and finished the season fourth in the conference with a total points scored (584). He also finished third in the conference in field goals made, going 218 for 506, and fourth in the conference for total free throws made (111). Overall, he finished first in the conference with 1,077 minutes played with the next closest being 890. 

The Raiders end their season with a 5-13 record in conference play, 10-19 overall. Their tough stretch of play in February prevented them from clinching a spot in the district tournament finishing three games back of the seventh seed. On a brighter note, as of right now, the Raiders’ will only be losing two of their starters (Daye and Moore) and will have most of their players returning next season. 

“I’m really pleased for my sophomores,” Fox said. “Obviously the win total isn’t what we wanted going in and there were a million little things that could have gone either way and a lot of it went against us this season. That’s what we’re gonna have to address and learn how to improve those little things…Ryel was just phenomenal from the guard position this season, with his numbers, especially while guarding the other team’s best player most of the time. Andrew was such a scoring threat all year, and he’ll go down historically as one of the best shooters for GRCC. I’m just really happy for those guys and I couldn’t draw up a better situation for a first-year head coach than having really solid sophomores.” 

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