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Kohler drops 29 as Raiders use big second half to beat Aquinas College JV, 105-80

Third-year #2 Brockton Kohler at the free throw line vs. Muskegon Community College (Alena Visnovsky/The Collegiate).

After Wednesday’s win against Muskegon Community College, the Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team, led by sophomore guard Brockton Kohler, defeated the Saints 105-80 on Feb.16, at the Ford Fieldhouse

Head coach Joe Fox scheduled the back-to-back to prepare for postseason play.

“We have been trying to schedule a back to back all year so that the team could be prepared for the postseason,” Fox said. “And I am glad the guys responded well against a good Aquinas team.”

From the jump, the Raiders’ energy was unmatched as they started the game on a 12-3 run led by sophomore guard Danyel Bibbs’ early six points. Immediately after, the Saints went on their own 7-0 run to march right back into the game. The first half was a battle between each team as neither team grasped a consistent lead. In the first 10 minutes, sophomore forward Isaac Warning, dominated in and out of the paint as he made a three while having a rebounding presence at any moment. With just under seven minutes left in the half, the score was 28-28 and both teams were looking to head into halftime with a lead. Aquinas ended the half on a 12-6 run and took a 45-39 lead. 

In response, the Raiders decided to pressure full-court defensively while picking up the pace of the game. 

“We defended really well and picked up full court pressure. That allowed us to create scoring opportunities off of turnovers,” Fox said. 

Starting the half, the Raiders struggled shooting the ball which led the Saints to increase their lead to 55-42 only two minutes in. Led by freshman Bashir Neely and Kohler, the Raiders went on a quick 7-0 run to cut the lead to five points. The next few minutes were dominated by offense as sophomore’s Chris Coleman and Rico Wade nailed a few shots to keep the Raiders within striking distance. With 13:25 remaining, the Raiders trailed by seven, but went on a 13-0 run led by Wade’s offense and the Raiders’ defensive pressure. As soon as the Raiders took the lead, they would never give it back as Kohler scorched the Saints with his shooting ability. GRCC finished the game on a 46-13 run which led to another home victory. 

Kohler believes the defensive adjustments were the cause of the offensive outbreak.

“We played better defense in the second half which led to unselfish play on the other end,” Kohler said. 

Kohler led all scorers with 29 points which was a season high in scoring for him. He also had three steals and three rebounds. Four other players scored in double figures. Including Bibbs’ 10 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Wade shot an efficient 5-7 from the field in only 18 minutes of play. Lastly, Coleman and Neely gave an offensive spark for the Raiders as Coleman scored 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists while Neely scored 10 points, five rebounds, and two blocks. 

Kohler, ecstatic after the win, credited his teammates for his shooting success. 

“It always feels great to hit shots,” Kohler said. “Great screens and great passes lead to easy shots. My teammates did a great job setting me up tonight.”

With the win, the Raiders improve to 17-7 on the season and remain at 5-5 in conference play. They travel to Alpena Community College on Saturday, Feb.18, at 3 p.m and look to continue their win streak.

Fox and his team are ready to go for the next game and will finish the season with a “one game at a time” mentality. 

“We are just taking it game by game,” Fox said. “Every conference game matters, especially on the road, so we really have to be locked in on Saturday.”

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