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Sophomores go out with a bang as Daye hits layup as time expires

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Sophomore Ryel Daye drives to the basket (Kristen Schestag)

By Jackson Heiden

The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team snapped their five-game losing streak by surviving Lake Michigan College, 77-75. 

Both teams got off to a slow start for the first 10 minutes as tough defense resulted in a plethora of turnovers for both sides. 

After the Raiders missed an abundance of 3-pointers, the Red Hawks called a timeout. The Raiders started running clean sets, allowing open looks for freshman guard Rico Wade and redshirt-freshman guard Andrew Moore, to knock down a couple of three’s to wake up the Raiders’ offense. 

Along with finding the open 3-point shot, the Raiders began to efficiently drive into the lane to create fouls which created free-throw attempts. The change in offense helped the Raiders go on an 11-3 run to take a 16-15 lead with nine minutes to go in the half. 

“We changed our defensive scheme,” said GRCC head coach Joe Fox. “We need to bring the fire a little bit… The shakes are out, like now it’s over. Coach McCorkle and Coach VanDyke and Coach Stuckey, were like, we got to switch up the defense a little bit, so we went to a few different zone defenses in the second part of the first half, and I thought it caught them off guard a little bit.”

As both offenses started to heat up and become more consistent, there were seven lead changes between the 10-minute and five-minute mark of the first half as the Raiders kept their lead 27-25.

The Raiders’ hot offense carried through them for the rest of the half. They went on a 21-6 run, as all momentum was on their side as the halftime buzzer rang. The Raiders’ heavy attack in the lane helped them score 10 points from the line during the run. 

“We’ve always talked about when you end on a run like that, the punches can punch back,” Fox said. “They took a punch, and they’re getting ready to throw one, so we have to be ready to stand there and take it, and fight back. We talked about how they’re probably gonna hit a couple of shots, but don’t panic because that’s the percentages playing out. 

The Red Hawks came out of halftime looking like a completely different team than they did in the first half as they possessed a lot of energy. Despite their lockdown defense and high-energy offense the Raiders kept pace with them as the Red Hawks narrowed their deficit to 52-47 with 15 minutes left. 

The Red Hawks’ pesky defense continued to stay consistent, as their offense tried their best to chip away, however, the Raider offense stayed one shot ahead as whatever the Red Hawks scored, the Raiders came right back and took it away. The Raiders kept their lead 60-54 with 10 to go in the game.

The Raiders offense started to cool down as the Red Hawks tied the game at 60, for the first time since the seven-minute mark in the first half. After a couple of hard drives to the hoop by redshirt-sophomore Brockton Kohler, along with some free throws, the Raiders’ found themselves up 66-65 with five minutes left in the game. 

After a couple of three-point exchanges between the Raiders and Red Hawks, the Raiders found themselves clinging onto a 71-70 lead with two minutes to play in the game. The final two minutes would be determined on who can make their free throws and who couldn’t, as both teams found themselves in the bonus with 31 seconds to go and the Raiders up 75-73.

Raiders possessed the ball with 20 seconds remaining and sophomore guard Ryel Daye with the ball. Daye and the Raiders looked to take the shot as Daye drove to the hoop and laid in the go-ahead basket as time expired. 

“We were just trying to get some misdirection to clear out some space for him,” Fox said. “He did a fantastic job and made a great move. The guys ran stuff wonderfully, they (had) hard cutaway(s), cleared out and really engaged their defenders. There wasn’t any help and Ryel just took it right to the rack.”

The sophomores showed out in what was the final home game of their GRCC careers as Moore finished with 20 points and five rebounds. Daye led the team yet again, in points and rebounds as he scored 21 while gathering 14 rebounds and four assists. Kohler followed up the sophomore’s impressive performances with a nice one of his own scoring 17 while grabbing eight boards and three assists. 

With the Raiders’ officially eliminated from playoff contention, they head to Plymouth, Indiana for their final game of the season as they take on Ancilla College on Wednesday, Feb. 23, where they look to gain revenge from a loss earlier in the season. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

“There’s a lot of reasons to go down there, and play a great game,” Fox said. “Our freshmen have a lot of work to do, so we’re going to be ready to go. We’re going to be locked in because this is our playoff game. We’re trying to end the season with a win. That’s a long bus ride home if you don’t win.”

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