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.
ROCHESTER—Living up to their fourth-place seeding, the Central Lakes College Raiders made it to the third-place game before losing to the No. 4 seed Eastfield 3-0 in the NJCAA Division III tournament Saturday at the UCR Regional Sports Center. Too many unforced errors and a lack of a consistent attack game did the Raiders in by scores of 25-17, 25-16, 27-25. Rachel Mathias and Kaitlynn Christen made the all-tournament team, and for the four CLC sophomores it was an ending to a successful run with two appearances in the national tournament.
As head coach Jim Russell leads his team into the season, and starts his 20th year at Central Lakes College, the foundation of his team, as always, will be the key to a successful season. That is the play of the point guard and the post and the opportunities that open up. The Raiders open their season at 8 p.m. Friday at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls. With Shawn McGee, Avery Smith, TrayVon Lackey, Nick Wiesmann and Lamontrell Fuller returning, the Raiders are looking to establish their identity early in the season.
Central Lakes College head coach Cassie Carey enters her third year at the helm of the Raiders' women's basketball team excited about the potential of the team she's putting on the floor this season. Last year, the Raiders were improved in their second year under Carey, finishing 11-13 overall and 6-8 and in fifth place in the Northern Division of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference. The top four teams in the division earn a spot in the state tournament.