The Grand Rapids Danger found themselves in a very unfamiliar
place Saturday night, down by 17 points at home to the Steel City Yellow Jackets in the first half. Behind the leadership of Jamel Hatchett, Derrick “D-B0” Brooks and Kulawnie Saunders, the Danger found their way back in to the game and held on in the final seconds to secure their first win in 2017, 118-113.
Jeff Borchers, Scott Soldan and Jaylen Norwood each got a rare start for Grand Rapids against the visitors from Pittsburgh and the Yellow Jackets took advantage of the newcomers early on. Steel City’s Lawrence Baker and Jonathan Logan were deadly from behind the 3-point arc in the first half as the lead grew from the opening tip until midway through the second quarter. Tone Reddic put together a spectacular highlight reel, with a high-flying act that the Flying Wallendas would be proud of. At the end of the first quarter, Steel City led 37-24.
In the second quarter, GR would figure out they weren’t hustling back on defense and decided to pick up the pressure full-court. It resulted in the Danger diminishing the lead to six points at the half, 52-46.
After the half, Jance Payne and “Terminator Alex” Mustert joined in on the positive vibes and wreaked havoc on the Yellow Jackets with their superior defensive play. DeArmond ” DD” Davis also found his comfort zone in the second half for the Danger. The trio of Hatchett, Brooks and Saunders took over and the Danger worked their way in to the lead, but would end the third with the score tied at 86-86.
With 2:10 left in the game, Steel City had regained the lead and held a 109-106 advantage and the outcome looked bleak for GR. After scoring a bucket on their own end, the Danger forced a turnover and Brooks put back a Bradley Whitby floater to give GR a 110-109 lead with 1:22 remaining. The Yellow Jackets stole the lead back off an oddly bouncing rebound and put back with 52.2 seconds to go, but after a Brooks foul going for a loose ball, Hatchett stole the ball just after the inbounds pass and streaked to the hoop for an easy layup to regain the lead. Then, Reddic found Baker for what seemed like an easy game-tying basket, but it was Terminator Alex who came up with the block of the year to secure possession for GR. Brooks would then go the length of the floor for the hoop and the harm to give the Danger a 116-111 lead after his made free throw. Steel City scored an easy layup with 8.3 seconds on the clock and the Danger gave the ball right back to them on an inbounds pass that ended up in Reddic’s hands for a three-pointer, which hit the far side of the iron and was rebounded by Whitby, who was fouled and hit both free throws, to secure the victory for Grand Rapids.
Hatchett led the team in scoring with 31 points, Brooks added 29 points and Saunders finished with 26 points to lead Grand Rapids. Reddic led the way for the Yellow Jackets with 34 and Baker added 20 of his own.
Grand Rapids will return to Grace Bible College next Saturday at 6 p.m. for a matchup with the Motor City Chargers. Steel City moves on to play the West Michigan Lake Hawks on Sunday afternoon.