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Raiders’ drop third straight as hopes of a postseason berth are diminishing

Sophomore Ryel Daye attempts the tough layup against Jackson College (Kristen Schestag)

By Jackson Heiden

The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team dropped their third straight against Lansing Community College, 105-87, despite the strong showing from the bench.

The momentum from the final 10 minutes of Wednesday’s game carried over into the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s game as the Raiders came out swinging. The Stars came out in a man-to-man look that the Raiders took advantage of. Led by redshirt-sophomore guard Andrew Moore, the Raiders’ jumped out to an early 10-point lead through the first seven minutes of the game. 

A personal foul committed by the Stars gave them a chance to reset and change up their defensive approach. Coming out in a zone look, this posed a problem for the Raiders’ as their offensive outburst had slowed down allowing the Stars to march back taking a 34-33 lead with six minutes to go in the first half. 

“I thought we still did well,” said GRCC head coach Joe Fox. “(We were) just a little slower on the offensive end than we were when they were in man.”

The Raiders and Stars kept pace with each other, not allowing one another to go ahead by more than three for the next five minutes until the final two minutes of the first half. The Raiders took quick shots and the Stars turned those defensive rebounds into fast-break opportunities allowing them to take a 52-44 lead going into halftime. 

“We need to do a better job of really handling the ball,” Fox said. “(We need to be) running off a little more time and getting the shot we’re looking for.”

The second half was a copy and paste of the final 10 minutes of the first half, as the Raiders and Stars went back and forth exchanging buckets as the Stars maintained a 10-point lead through the first five minutes of the second half and then proceeded to go on a small run to put them up 78-62 with 10 minutes to go in the second half. 

“They did well keeping us an arm’s length away,” Fox said. “We would make a big shot and they had a player who scored a lot of points and he was really good in the second half and made a lot of timely shots that were just run killers for us.”

The offensive struggles carried through the final 10 minutes of the game as the Raiders could not get anything going as they eventually found themselves in a 21-point deficit with two minutes to go, losing 105-87 a couple of minutes later.

“We talked after the game, and the problem with the second half of conference play has not been offensive, we just need to continue to improve our defense,” Fox said. “We’re not taking the initiative, we’re not taking it personally to get stops on every single possession. We need to have a  little more urgency with that and then I’ll think we’ll be alright moving forward. 

The bench was a nice second wind for the Raiders this afternoon as they combined to score 29 of the teams 87 points. Freshman guard Jovante Jones led the bench with 14 points along with three rebounds. Redshirt-freshman Nyuon Nhial followed up Jones’ performance with 11 points and three rebounds. Finally, strong redshirt-freshman defensive man Justus Clark finished with four points. 

“Justus was really aggressive offensively as well, didn’t take as many shots but got in the paint,” Fox said. “Jovante is always aggressive defensively, but today I thought he was really really good at taking the ball to the basket, and hit a couple of open shots.”

Moore led the team in points overall as he dropped a 27 piece while accumulating five assists and three rebounds. Sophomore guard Ryel Daye claimed yet another double-double as he scored 19 points on top of 12 rebounds and two blocks. Redshirt-freshman guard Brockton Kohler notched 10 points and  five rebounds. Redshirt-freshman guard Danyel Bibbs didn’t have the biggest night of scoring, however, he helped out his teammates quite a bit grabbing 11 assists, five rebounds, a block, and a steal. 

As the Raiders near the end of the season, it’s time to start thinking about the postseason and the Raiders have some work to do if they want to clinch the seventh seed. GRCC is currently sitting in ninth in the MCCAA Western division and two games behind Lake Michigan College, who owns the seventh seed. The Raiders’ and Lake Michigan are still set to play once more this season which plays in the Raiders’ favor as they need to make up ground for the seventh seed.

The Raiders are going to have to work to make the postseason and Wednesday night’s opponent won’t be an easy task as they travel to Muskegon, who is ranked No. 1 in the Western Conference. Tip-off is set for Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. 

“I told the guys, these last four games, if you want to win the last four games, it starts with the first step,” Fox said. “We have to focus all of our energy on Wednesday, try and take care of business there and then start planning for Saturday but we have to focus on everything in Muskegon.”

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