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Men’s College Basketball: Raiders make it 7 wins in a row against Mesabi

Central Lakes College hosts Mesabi Range Feb. 12

Quamar Gresham.jpeg
Quamar Gresham

BRAINERD — One of the key players in the Central Lakes Raiders seven-game winning streak has been Quamar Gresham.

The first year player out of St. Cloud has led the team in scoring in four of their seven wins and twice been named MCAC Northern Division player of the week.

There was reason for concern in Saturday’s game against Mesabi when Gresham had to come out of the game with 14 minutes left in the second half in a 53-53 tie game.

The Raiders rose up and when Gresham came back in the game with 4:58 left the Raiders led 77-66, and they went on to an 87-77 win over the Norseman Saturday, Feb 12th.

Gresham led the team in scoring with 26 points including three, 3-pointers late in the first half to give the Raiders momentum going into halftime.

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With Gresham on the bench for most of the second half, Josh Lewis stepped up the defense and rebounding with 11 rebounds and 11 points. Jalen Dearing added 15 points and Zaa Buffalo finished with 12.

Raiders head coach Jim Russell also pointed out the play of Isaiah Williams who gave the Raiders valuable minutes in the second half and tallied seven points and five rebounds.

“It’s a team game and we have always preached that,” Russell said. “Today Isaiah (Williams) came in and gave us great minutes and hustled. His best play was when he passed it to Q (Gresham) and Q missed. Isaiah put the layup right back in. That is the kind of effort I was looking for in the second half and we knew they would be tired with their short bench. Overall it was good. Jalen stepped it up in the second half and Josh played incredible in both halves and took over on rebounds and defense. But with Q going out the team stepped it up and that was good.”

Mesabi brought a strong zone defensive approach that the Raiders struggled against in the first half and Mark Campbell caused problems for Central Lakes all afternoon, leading his team with 19 points.

The two teams met in Virginia in January and the Raiders got out of town with a 77-74 win, but they knew that the Norseman would bring a strong game in the rematch.

“The first time that we played them they were really aggressive and they were ready to go,” said Lewis. “Today, we said at the beginning of the game they weren’t going to rollover for us because they needed the win in conference. Our plan was to come out and take care of our business.”

The Raiders got out to an early lead with Gresham hitting a 3-pointer with 15:17 remaining to give CLC and they also forced the Ironmen into a backcourt violation resulting in a three from Dearring to make it 18-8.

But Mesabi fought back, going on a 13-point run to lead 30-25 before David Felix scored with 5:30 remaining to make it 30-27 Mesabi. With the score at 32-27, Gresham hit 3-pointers on three consecutive trips and the Raiders were back in front at 36-33 and they led 43-41 at the half.

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Felix’s play in the post was one of the keys to the Raiders having a halftime lead as he scored eight points and was also a defensive force with three blocks.

“David has made a huge improvement and you have to give Coach (Brandon) Bell credit for that,” Russell said. “They get together every day and work on individual skills and he has developed a lot more confidence. At the beginning of the year we didn’t expect him to be there but he has worked really hard at it during practice and overall he is a great person who does well in the classroom and does everything we ask him to do.”

Gresham led the team in the first half with 21 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from behind the arc, but he picked up his third foul early in the second half and was whistled for his fourth on a blocking foul with 13:58 left in the half and had to leave with the game tied. But the Raiders responded with nine points from Lewis and 10 from Dearring to build the lead 71-61 on two free throws from Lewis to complete a seven-point run.

“The first timeout after Q (Gresham) went out my message to the team was, ‘the rest of us have to pick it up, play hard and leave everything on the floor,”’ Lewis said. “He is obviously our main scorer so we have to get offense from others for a few minutes until he gets back and then we will have another weapon on the floor.”

Gresham returned with 4:58 left and the Raiders were able to maintain their lead for the win.

“They always play hard and they are better athletes than some give them credit for and we knew their backs were against the wall to get it together and get in the state tournament,” Russell said of the effort from the Norsemen. “And we know teams are always going to give us their best and it was a great test.”

The Raiders will travel to Vermilion for a rematch Wednesday and will end their year next year with a game against Northern Division leader Rainy River next Saturday.

“Our attitude is to play like it's our last game,” Lewis said of their last two games. “My mindset personally is that you never know when you aren’t going to be able to play basketball anymore so try to spread that to the rest of the team. Whether all of us are together next year these could be our last two games together with this group so let’s leave it all out there together.”

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Mesabi Range 41 36 — 77

Central Lakes 43 44 — 87

MESABI RANGE

Mark Campbell 19, Glentrel Carter 15, Nataj Sanders 13, Ziaire Davis 10, Arius Spearman 9, Mayan White 6, Lyric Radford 5. FG 23-75 (42.7%), FT 5-12 (41.7%). 3-point 8-26 (30.8%).

CENTRAL LAKES

Jalen Dearring 15, Josh Lewis 11, Quamar Gresham 26, CJ Davenport 3, Isaiah Williams 7, Zaa Buffalo 12, Derek Aeilts 4, David Felix 9. FG 32-60 (53.3%), FT 14-20 (70%). 3-point 9-21 (42.9%). Division: 10-2. Overall: 14-10. Next: at Vermilion 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Related Topics: LOCAL SPORTSBASKETBALLCENTRAL LAKES COLLEGE
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