Glen Oaks Community College men’s basketball coach Steve Proefrock looked forward to seeing how his squad would handle what might be the toughest stretch on the schedule. A five-game winning streak, including Wednesday’s 76-70 home victory against Kalamazoo Valley Community College has answered that question.
Once again it was a pair of former Kalamazoo Central High School stars that carried GOCC offensively, with Angelo Griffis scoring 24 of his 27 points in the first half and Lee Gardner III taking over in the final 20 minutes to also finish with 27. Griffis dropped 5 of 10 3-point attempts in the game.
Glen Oaks moved to 11-2 overall and 2-0 in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference. Kalamazoo Valley entered the contest just one spot out of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II top-20 rankings.
The Vikings had a 10-point lead in the second half, but KVCC, which had four players in double figures, roared back and held a 66-62 advantage with just over five minutes remaining.
“When adversity struck and they took the lead in the second half, making every free throw — I have to give them a lot of credit, they were bottoms on the free throws. We settled them down a little bit, made a couple extra passes and got the ball to the right people.”
Aundreyan Roberts knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one point and Griffis connected from deep the next trip down the floor to regain a 68-66 lead for the home team. Point guard Joseph Beard only finished with four points, but he drained a pair from the stripe that give the Vikings a 70-66 cushion with 2:30 remaining.
Kalamazoo Valley (11-4, 1-1) tied the game again on a Tyler Oliver putback, but Joseph Griffin’s free throw, a Gardner reverse and two more foul shots by Roberts moved GOCC out of harm’s way.
“That’s some of the best defense we’ve played all year the last four or five possessions,” Proefrock said. “I’m very proud of the way they played in the last five minutes.”
Glen Oaks was outrebounded 42-36. Griffis led the Vikings with seven boards, while Gardner and Beard each added six. Proefrock’s team finished the game 25-for-58 (43.1 percent) from the field and 18-for-27 (66.6 percent) from the foul line.
Roberts had nine total points, Griffin posted four, Eric Nix added three and Jason Starks registered two for Glen Oaks.
Jevonte Hughes, who hails from Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, led the Cougars with 17 points.
After Griffis, who did damage in the paint and pulled up confidently from behind the arc, had his way with KVCC in the first half, Proefrock knew the plan of attack would have to change after the break.
“I’m not a brain surgeon; I’m not an Einstein at all,” he said. “But if a guy scores  the first half, they’re probably going to key in on him and face guard him. One guy can almost win a game by himself … but when you’re trying to win a conference championship, not one guy is going to do it. I told [Griffis], ‘You’ve got to trust your teammates.’”
His teammates stepped up and, if they hadn’t already, earned that trust Wednesday. And the Vikings will need everyone to contribute over the next several days, with a trip to Grand Rapids Friday and home games against Kellogg and Muskegon coming up.
“I told them we’ve got to play with passion,” Proefrock said. “That’s the only reason why we win, man. We play with passion, play hard and with great emotion. We’ve just got to control our emotions. But I’d rather have to pull back on the reins than kick them in the butt.”