Kalamazoo, MI -
After a home win over Rochester College, the Delta College Men's basketball team travelled to Kalamazoo, MI to play in the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Invitational.
In the opening game the Pioneers took on the host team, the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Cougars. In a game that started off going back and forth with both teams trading baskets, the Pioneers found themselves up just a point 17-16 with 13:30 left to play. The Pioneers dominated the next four minutes and a three pointer by Jordan Martinus capped off a 16-7 run and pushed the lead to 33-23. Over the last 9:30, the Cougars battled back and got hot from outside the arc connecting on 6 three pointers and cutting the Pioneer halftime lead to two, 47-45.
The Pioneers came out of the locker room hitting on all cylinders and were led by freshman guard Torandis Mack. After sitting out the first half, Mack ran the show for Delta and scored 11 second half points and had 3 steals. After a Jalen Fykes three pointer, Mack scored six straight points and pushed the Delta lead to 62-47. The Cougars would not allow the Pioneers to cruise to victory as they battled back and took a lead 74-71 with 6:00 left in the game. Down the stretch, the Pioneers got some key rebounds by freshman big man Peyton Miller and a couple key baskets by Mack to pull out the victory 85-81.
"That was a gritty win tonight," said Head Coach Carlos McMath. "We got production from a lot of different guys and I was pleased how the freshmen played. When the game was on the line our sophomores stepped up and the freshmen followed suit."
Leading the way for the Pioneers was Martel Handley with 16 points. Freshman big men, Peyton Miller and Deon Gray had 14 and 11 points, respectively. Miller also added a team high 12 rebounds. Virgil Walker had 7 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.
"Any win you get on the road is a good one but we only shot 63% (20-32) from the foul line and that needs to get better," said McMath. "We are a team that likes to attack and we need to make sure to take advantage of our opportunities when we get to the line."
On Saturday, in the second game of the invitational, the Pioneers took on the Grand Rapids Community College Raiders. The Raiders came into the game with a record of 3-0 after knocking off nationally ranked Schoolcraft Community College 108-94 the night before.
The matchup between the Pioneers and Raiders was a physical one right from the start. With both teams getting in early foul trouble, the Raiders jumped out to a 16-10 lead with 13:30 left in the half. The Pioneers clawed back and a Torandis Mack lay-up followed by a Martel Handley three pointer gave the Pioneers their first lead 30-29 with 5:45 remaining. A Jalen Fykes three pointer extended the lead and the Pioneers went into the locker room ahead 49-41.
The Pioneers started the second half right where they left off and a Fykes three pointer followed up by a Handley lay-up gave Delta their largest lead 60-43 with 16:30 left to play. The Raiders would mount a comeback but clutch free throw shooting allowed the Pioneers to prevail with a 91-82 victory. The Pioneers shot an impressive 82% (18-22) from the foul line.
"This was a very physical game. Our guys laid it all on the line and sacrificed to get this win today," said Head Coach Carlos McMath. "I was really impressed with how our guys applied ball pressure and our help defense stepped into the driving lanes and drew the offensive foul." For the game the Pioneers took a total of seven charges.
Torandis Mack led the way for the Pioneers with 19 points and 5 assists. Justin Person added 16 points and Jalen Fykes had 13 points and 2 blocks. Virgil Walker had 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Freshman guard, Vincent McKinney, added 9 points but did his work on the defensive end by stifling the Raider guards.
With the win, the Pioneers are now 3-0 and travel to Northwood Wednesday night to face the Northwood Junior Varsity team. Game time is 5:00.