For a team coming off a Region 13B championship and a seventh-place finish in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament, 2017 will be a year of new beginnings for the Central Lakes College Raiders.
Saturday, April 8, is an important date for first-year Central Lakes College Raiders baseball head coach Brian Voigt as he will go up up against his former school, Riverland, and his former head coach, Scott Koenigs. Koenigs has coached teams to six MCAC conference titles, two region championships and two appearances in the NJCAA Division III Worlds Series. And that is where Voigt wants the Raiders to be in the near future. Voigt has played for teams that attained a high level of success.
Party crashing underdogs. That's the role the Central Lakes College Raiders and head coach Jim Russell will take into this weekend's Minnesota College Athletic Conference state tournament. The North No. 2 seeded Raiders (19-7 overall) will open against South No. 3 St. Cloud Technical College (20-5) 6 p.m. Friday at Anoka-Ramsey The Raiders played through early adversity looking for an identity. That included losses to St. Cloud and Anoka-Ramsey, two teams standing in CLC's way this weekend.
THIEF RIVER FALLS—In a key Northern Division showdown Saturday, the Central Lakes College Raiders took a 4-point lead into halftime but couldn't hold on in the second half as they fell to Northland 68-66 in a battle for first place in the division. Keonte' Jenkins scored 22 points to lead the Raiders. Lamontrell Fuller added 13 points for a Raider team that shot 46 percent from the field, 38 percent from behind the arc. Coming into Saturday's game, the Raiders had won seven of their last eight games, and had defeated the Pioneers earlier in the season.
THIEF RIVER FALLS—The Central Lakes College Raiders went up against the No. 2-ranked team in the nation in the Northland Pioneers Saturday and were dealt a 64-46 defeat. Tanisha Beetso scored 16 points to lead the Raiders but CLC coach Randy Swanhorst was pleased with his team's effort against a Northland squad that won for the ninth-straight time and improved to 20-3.
Entering Saturday's game against the Mesabi Norse, the Central Lakes College Raiders had 10 wins. In most of those wins, interior play from the big three of Timothy Boyd, T.J. Kornbaum and Lamontrell Fuller was a key component. The Raiders defeated the Norse 79-66 to move to 3-1 in the Northern Division and the big three played a major role in the win combining for 42 points. That also opened up the perimeter where Keonte' Jenkins' 21 points led the team.
Playing with just seven players, the Central Lakes College Raiders fell to the Mesabi Range Norse 75-55 Saturday. Kaitlin Spar led the Raiders with 15 points, Alicia Lup followed with 14, Tanisha Beetso 13 and Taylor King 11. Mesabi stayed undefeated in Northern Division play at 3-0 while the Raiders dropped to 1-2. The Raiders also played short-handed as Brooke Miller, who has provided a strong inside presence for CLC, was in concussion protocol and unable to play.
Tanisha Beetso's three-pointer with under a minute left gave Central Lakes College a 42-41 lead, and they went on to a 47-41 win over Vermilion in a Northern Division game Wednesday. Beetso finished with 15 points, and Cheyanne Johnson collected 10. As a team, the Raiders shot 26 percent from the field, and they won the battle on the boards by a 47-39 margin. With the win, CLC ended a seven-game losing streak.
The non-conference part of the schedule ended for the Central Lakes College Raiders on the final day of the CLC Winter Classic Saturday. Behind 30 points from Keonte' Jenkins, the Raiders finished the first half of the season with momentum in a 104-91 win over Division II Dakota College of Bottineau of North Dakota. The victory gave the Raiders five wins in their last six games. Thomas Kornbaum had another strong game inside with 18 points, and Shawn McGee ran the offense while scoring 16 points.
With an 11-0 record, a state championship, and a No. 6 national ranking, the Central Lakes College Raiders have one more chance to put their skills on display as they compete in the first Red Grange Bowl at 1 p.m. Saturday at Glen Ellyn, Ill. The last few years the Raiders have gone south to Phoenix, but this year they received an opportunity to participate in a post-season game that is closer to home for a number of players.