By Kevin Lopez
The Raiders have racked up five straight wins as they are able to run through Kirtland Community College, 90-66, on Tuesday, Feb.28 at the Ford Fieldhouse.
This win puts the team record at 16-7, with a conference record of 10-3 and continuing their dominance at the Fieldhouse with an 8-2 record at home.
The first quarter started off rough for the Raiders as the Firebirds splashed home three straight 3-pointers and played great defense as GRCC didn’t have its first field goal till the 8:04 mark.
Despite the rough start to the game, Sally Merrill, a sophomore forward, scored seven straight baskets of her own to help the Raiders get back in the game and Grace Lodes, a sophomore forward, with her aggressive play around the basket was able to draw many fouls in the paint and bang home six free throws to help the Raiders take the lead going into the second quarter 20-18.
The second quarter was a different story as the Raiders turned up the intensity and dropped 28 points in the quarter on 56% shooting from the field. They were also able to take advantage of their defense as they had active hands and moved their feet to force several travels and were able to score 13 points off turnovers.
Alyssa Katerburg, a sophomore forward, helped the Raiders with two 3-pointers toward the end of the quarter as the team had a 12-0 run to expand the lead going into the half 48-29.
It was all about offense in the third quarter as both teams shot well from the field and went back and forth. The Raiders started the quarter off with two quick baskets from Merrill and Emersyn Koepke, a sophomore guard. Meanwhile, the Firebirds struggled. They seemed disconnected as a unit, arguing with one another and displaying poor ball possession.
On the other hand, the Raiders seemed in tune with one another as they had eight assists in the quarter and with every basket scored the bench yelled in celebration, while also encouraging each other on defense. The Raiders continued leading the game 72-49.
Moving into the fourth, it was again all about maintaining the lead. It got a little too close for comfort for the Raiders when Firebirds began to make a bit of a comeback as they were able to get as close as 12 points, but the Raiders shut that down with a run of their own.
The Raiders were able to take care of business and stretch the lead out more with Merrill scoring a basket with less than a minute left to score a career high 30 points and to take home the victory for the Raiders 90-66.
GRCC head coach Dave Glazier was happy with how his team played together.
“Execute, head up, play with each other,” Glazier said. “I mean we had 33 field goals and 25 assists on ’em, when we play together we’re pretty tough.”
Katerburg splashed home four 3-pointers and pulled down five rebounds, while also leading the team in 3-pointers made.
“When I start shooting, the whole team gets excited,” Katerburg said. “And when I shoot well, it really picks them up. Especially in games when we aren’t shooting the best, we need someone out there to start hitting them and that’s what I did.”
Lodes had another double-double with 24 points on nine attempts.
“I feel like my play is pretty important,” Lodes said. “To set the tone, but also keep my teammates motivated, every single time they have their heads down and miss a shot, I’m right there to pick them up.”
In addition to scoring a career record of 30 points, Merrill also grabbed eight rebounds.
“Obviously I’m really happy, but I’m not satisfied with the shots I missed,” Merrill said. “I can’t afford to miss those shots in conference play. So yeah, happy, but not satisfied and I gotta make those shots in the future.”
The Raiders finish up the season at the Ford Fieldhouse on Thursday, March 2 against Delta College at 5:30 p.m.