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GRCC improves to 20 wins on the season in Sophomore night victory against Kirtland Community College

GRCC men's basketball sophmores at their home game vs. Kirtland Community College (Alena Visnovsky/The Collegiate).

The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team celebrated sophomore night on Tuesday, Feb. 28 with a win against Kirtland Community College. The Raiders defeated the Firebirds 97-78 led by sophomore guard Chris Coleman’s 22 points. 

Head coach Joe Fox said the team came out fired from the jump and that the coaches did not have to intensify them. 

“There was no fire-up speech needed for sophomore night,” Fox said. “The team was ready from the jump. They did a great job channeling their energy in the first half.”

From the jump, the Raiders defense was all over the place as they held the Firebirds to two points in the first four minutes. After the first five minutes, the Raiders went on a 26-4 run led by a barrage of threes from sophomore forward Isaac Warning and freshman Bashir Neely. GRCC held a 36-12 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half, and continued to increase the lead before the half. Efficient shooting mixed with aggressive defense allowed GRCC to have a 59-29 lead at halftime. 

As a team, GRCC shot 24-36 (66.7%) from the field and 9 of 18 (50%) from the 3-point line. They also held the Firebirds to under 35% shooting from the field in the first half which is why the Raiders lead was so large. Many players had an impressive half, as Coleman had 13 points and three rebounds while sophomore guard Danyel Bibbs had 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Warning also added 10 points and four rebounds. 

“The first half was all energy. On both ends of the court, the guys gave everything they had which showed on the scoreboard,” Fox said.

Unlike the first half, the Firebirds jumped out front in the second half with an immediate 8-0 run. After this, however, both teams competed at a similar level which kept the Raiders lead constant throughout the rest of the game. Coleman and Warning continued to lead GRCC scoring-wise, as Coleman’s shooting was unguardable and Warning was unstoppable inside the paint and outside of it. Although the Raiders slightly cooled off in the second half, they took care of business on sophomore night winning 97-78. 

The Raiders accounted for 21 team assists which was 11 more than the Firebirds. They nailed 12 three’s which led to nearly 100 points for the Raiders. 

Freshman guard Jajuan Walker believes the team is getting hot at the right time. 

“As a team, I feel we are getting closer and closer by the game and we are all on the same page on what our goals are as a team,” Walker said. “We’re taking it one game, one practice, one day at a time.”

Coleman’s sharpshooting allowed him to score 22 points while grabbing six rebounds. Bibbs and Warning gave a huge boost for the Raiders as Bibbs scored 20 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals while Warning secured a double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Lastly, freshman guard Carter Thomas did not miss a shot on his way to nine points.  

Fox has been impressed with Coleman for a while and is happy to see him performing at such a high level. 

“Chris has been a great player for us all season, and he’s really starting to find his rhythm in February, like you want sophomores to do,” Fox said. “He works so hard on his game and it is great to see him playing so well.”

With another conference win, the Raiders improved to 20-7 on the season and 8-5 in conference play. In the final game of the regular season for the Raiders, they host Delta College on Thursday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. 

Coach Fox is still locked in on winning the final game of the season and continues to have the “one game at a time” mentality.

“We have clinched a home playoff game at this point so Thursday is about finishing off the regular season with momentum heading into the playoffs,” Fox said. 

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