The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team improved their winning streak to three games after defeating Alpena Community College 81-79 on Saturday, Feb.18, in a bizarre final minute.
“Alpena is a good shooting team that can take advantage when teams aren’t fully focused on defense,” head coach Joe Fox said. “It’s harder to prepare for a team when it’s your third game in four days but we did a great job fighting throughout the game.”
The Raiders started the game cold from the field as they unusually struggled to score early. They were held to 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. However, the Raiders only trailed by seven but the Lumberjacks shot lights out for the next three minutes to increase their lead to 27-15. From this point, Fox relied on his depth to chip at the lead.
“Our depth helped us today, especially in the first half,” Fox said. “Jack Scrimshaw came in and got active right away with a big defensive play. Our depth means everyone on the team has to buy in to sharing minutes, and the guys have done a great job of that so far. It is a huge part of our success.”
Sophomore forward Isaac Warning started the run for the Raiders having multiple buckets in the paint along with a few offensive rebounds. The communication and togetherness of the Raiders allowed them to go on a 12-2 run to cut the lead to one possession. Sophomores Chris Coleman and Myron Brewer sparked the Raiders’ run offensively as Coleman scored two baskets in the paint and Brewer nailed two threes.
GRCC’s run plateaued due to missed free throws and the Lumberjacks hitting shots at the end of the half. Both teams were at their best offensively at the end of the half, as the Raiders led 39-37.
“I believe that we were able to pick up on the offensive end and knock down more shots towards the end of the first half,” Brewer said.
Starting the second half, both teams played hot offensively as there were more than 12 points scored in the first two minutes. The Raiders nailed a few shots from deep led by sophomore guard Brockton Kohler and Brewer. However, the Raiders failed to separate from the Lumberjacks which meant a nail-bitter finish.
Freshman Jordan Houser displayed his ability on both sides of the court as he hit a few shots while also getting some stops. The Raiders led 65-59, but the Lumberjacks fought their way back into the game. With 2:40 remaining, the game was tied at 72 as sophomore guard Danyel Bibbs kept the Raiders in the game with his scoring and defensive effort.
“The team buckled down in the final minutes and made plays that mattered,” Fox said. “It is tough to go on the road and I was really proud of their effort through adversity.”
Each team went back and forth in the final minutes, trying to separate from one another. Down by one, Coleman had a chance to tie it at the free throw line but only went 1-2. The next possession, Coleman is fouled again and goes 1-2 from the line again which gives the Lumberjacks a chance to win it with just under a minute left. Alpena Community College would take a two point lead after two made free throws, but the Raiders answered right back with a put-back by Coleman. In the Lumberjack’s last possession, they turned the ball over giving the Raiders a chance to win the game. Bibbs went coast-to-coast after getting the steal and finished a layup with 1.3 seconds left. GRCC got a stop after this which led to the victory.
“I think the importance of us winning today was to make another statement of us winning on the road despite traveling four hours out and keeping ourselves in a good position to be in the playoffs and ready to play our next game,” Brewer said.
Bibbs led the team in scoring with 21 points, six assists, and four steals. Sophomore’s Rico Wade and Myron Brewer gave a spark off the bench as Wade had 11 points and five rebounds while Brewer scored 10 points. Warning added a double-double as he scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Lastly, Coleman scored some crucial points down the stretch as he had 11 points.
With the victory, the Raiders finish the week without a loss and improve to 18-7 on the year with a 6-5 conference record. GRCC looks to extend their winning streak to four games when they return to the Ford Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Feb. 22 to take on Delta College.
“We really want to get to a spot where we’re in a good situation heading into the conference tournament. But it’s also really important to be playing well through this time,” Fox said. “We didn’t execute as well as I hoped today, but we never quit, and got great defensive minutes from Rico Wade, Jordan Houser, and a few other guys.”