The Central Lakes College Raiders are the hottest team in the Northern Division, riding a 10-game winning streak entering this weekend’s Minnesota College Athletic Conference/Region 13 tournament at Anoka-Ramsey. However, they are relishing the role of underdog as they are the No. 2 seed in the division behind No. 1 Vermilion. The Raiders also face the prospect of going up against the Southern Division’s No. 1-seeded Rochester in the semifinal round.
The ups and downs of Jalynn Lamb’s sophomore season mirror those of the Central Lakes College Raiders. Lamb struggled to find her shot on a consistent basis in the early part of the season while the Raiders struggled offensively as a team. In the second half of the season, Lamb’s shot has started to fall on a regular basis, and the Raiders have won 12 of their last 14 games. They stayed red-hot on Saturday with an 81-67 victory over Hibbing, raising the Raiders’ division record to 8-2, keeping them in a second -place tie with Rainy River.
Bryan Gichaba and the Central Lakes College Raiders proved that hard work pays off with an 81-67 win over Hibbing on Saturday. The Raiders pushed the tempo against a Cardinals team that likes to slow down the game, and gained revenge for a 54-53 loss to the Cardinals in January. It was CLC’s seventh straight Northern Division win and moved the Raiders to 8-2, good for second place behind Vermilion.
Confidence is a great thing and the Central Lakes Raiders women’s basketball team is building more of it with each game. The Raiders blew open a close game in the second half, and rolled past the Itasca Vikings 81-54 in a Northern Division contest Saturday. It was the fifth win in a row for CLC. With the win, the Raiders raised their record to 5-1 in division play, 6-11 overall. On a day when Lindsay Monson and Jalynn Lamb found themselves in serious foul trouble, the Raiders’ guards stepped up with a solid shooting game to give the team a huge offensive boost.
Central Lakes College men’s head coach Jim Russell was honored Wednesday night for his 300th win on Dec. 14. His players gave him another reason to celebrate with a 70-48 win over Fond Du Lac in the divisional home opener for the Raiders. Despite shooting just 33 percent in the first half, and 2-11 from behind the arc, CLC shot 44 percent in the second half to pull away from the Thunder.
Six weeks ago, head coach Jim Russell and the Central Lakes Raiders were in a strange place with an 0-3 record to start season. A year ago, Kevin Kuefler was on the bench with a torn anterior cruciate ligament cheering on his teammates. Kuefler and the Raiders are in a much different place now. Kuefler’s 21 points led CLC to an 86-78 win over St. Cloud Technical College Saturday in the Winter Classic. The Raiders now have a 7-5 record and are looking to the Northern Division opener Friday against Rainy River.
The scoreboard at the end of the Brainerd Holiday Tournament displayed a sixth-place finish for the Warriors, but is was a successful day for the program and head coach Dave Maras. Maras was honored for 45 years of leading the Brainerd gymnastics programs. That includes starting the girls program 42 years ago, and being the head coach since 1982. On the mat, Rachel Hoffman had two 13th-place finishes. She recorded an 8.75 on the vault, and a 8.70 on the beam. Rebekah Hoffman posted Brainerd’s highest finish with a seventh-place 8.80 on bars.
The fourth game of the season isn’t often labeled a must win game. But the Central Lakes College Raiders, who entered the game with a 1-3 record, were in need of a win and got it as they knocked of undefeated Anoka-Ramsey Rams in an non-division game Friday. The Rams knocked CLC out of the playoffs two years ago and beat the nationally ranked Raiders last year. Sophomore Brandon Davis finished with 18 points and fellow sophomore, Kevin Kuefler, scored 10 as the Raiders shot 52 percent from the floor.
Sometimes the journey can be more important than the result. That was the case for the Central Lakes women’s basketball team in their season opener against Division I opponent Bismarck State. On the scoreboard, the Mystics handled the Raiders by a 78-50 score. They led 46-26 at the half, due mostly to cold shooting from CLC and very good shooting from behind the arc by Bismarck State. Taalyr Egeness led the outside attack for the Raiders with 14 points. The inside tandem of Lindsay Monson and Jalynn Lamb scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Change can be a good thing, and the Central Lakes College Raiders will face a lot of it as they prepare to open the 2012-2013 season. The Raiders open on the Brainerd campus in the CLC Fall Classic on Friday night. CLC will play five of its first six games at home, and that could be a crucial time for a team that will be coming together with just three players returning from the 2011-2012 team that finished 8-14 overall .