Nearly eight months ago, Grant Raleigh was lying in a Denver hospital not knowing if he was going to live and if he did, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to walk again.
On Monday, Raleigh — a freshman — completed his remarkable turnaround by scoring eight important points during a crucial McPherson College run as the Bulldogs broke open a close game and went on for a 95-63 victory over Manhattan Christian to move to 2-0 on the season.
Raleigh, a two-time first-team All-State selection from nearby Hesston, suffered numerous serious injuries in a skiing accident, including three broken bones in his back and a shattered pelvis, not to mention severe injuries to his arm and shoulder.
But through sheer heart and guts, Raleigh accelerated the rehab process to the point where he could now be an important player for the Bulldogs. He was 3 for 3 for eight points in the first half, as he started the Bulldogs on a 24-9 sizz to vault them to a 46-29 halftime lead.
“I was so proud of Grant,” McPherson College coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “He is just an outstanding young man. His presence on the floor is just something that is so impressive. He’s so confident.”
When it rains, it pours and the Bulldogs rained 16 of 32 from 3-point range to key the win. The longball was a Mac deficiency last year, but Aaron Bachura came off the bench to make 4 of 5 and instant offense Dee Roberts was 3 of 5 as he has embraced his sixth-man role.
Roberts, a juco transfer who may be one of the purest shooters for Mac in a long time, scored 18 points in just 17 minutes. Bachura added 12, while Ramon Martinez and Reed Rowell added 10 apiece. Rowell, for the second straight game, dominated the glass with 11 rebounds as he showed he has a nose for the ball and excellent footwork around the basket.
Swartzendruber was pleased with the performance as the Bulldogs displayed an exciting brand of basketball that involved so many players.
“We wanted to try and score more in transition,” he said. “We got some easy baskets in transition tonight. You saw how well we shoot when we got some confidence. We shot awfully well from 3.”
Mac led by as many as 36 points in the second half and Swartzendruber made liberal use of his bench. Twelve players wound up scoring.
The Bulldogs step way up in competition on Friday when they travel to Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma. Southern used to be one of the top programs at the NAIA level, but is now NCAA Division II.
Mac (95) — Martinez 10, O’Hara 2, Rowell 10, Crooks 9, Lakin 7, Raleigh 8, Lowe 9, Bachura 12, Roberts 18, Eberhart 1, Parker 4, Wilfong 5.
Manhattan Christian (63) — Miller 12, Dobbins 5, Chisam 17, Brooks 2, White 8, Woods 2, Vanegas 4, Babalola 11, Robinson 2.