The game was tied four different times throughout the day, but in the end, the Central Lakes College Raiders lost 69-65 to the Anoka-Ramsey Rams in a Southern Division game Saturday.
The Rams, who were defeated 74-55 by CLC in January, pulled ahead in the first three minutes and kept the lead, only letting the score tie once. But they finished the half with just a six-point lead against CLC, which leads the division and is ranked No. 1 in NJCAA Division III.
Michael Farrington led the Raiders in the first half, scoring eight points, and finished with 13.
“They came here with a good game plan and did what they needed to do,” Raiders coach Jim Russell said of the Rams. “This is the first time we felt like we weren’t prepared to play the game we normally should.”
Maurice Hernandez, who was scoreless in the first half, was the leading scorer for the Raiders, finishing with 18 points.
“They were being really physical, so I had to be more physical and start attacking the basket more,” said Hernandez. “They just outplayed us tonight. They got every loose ball, every foul they made important free throws.
“We came out flat the first half. We weren’t ready for how ready they were. We overlooked them and didn’t play our game as well as we usually do.”
The second half was point for point, with three ties, but the Raiders were never able to pull ahead.
“I give them a lot of credit; they came in and stole one from us,” said Russell. “It’s good for us because the guys understand what it means to have someone take a win from us.
“Overall, they made their shots. We fought hard in the second half but it’s a team that we didn’t hold our composure against.”
With only three regular-season games left, the pressure is on as everyone wants the No. 1 spot.
“The Raiders are a very good basketball team; well deserving of being the No. 1 team in the nation. They’re well coached. They’re great, respectful guys,” said Rams coach Ron Larson. “There was a little bit more pressure and they got tired in the end but all we ever ask of the guys is to respond to adversity and they responded.
“We had a quality opponent and we are quality team and we look forward to seeing them again in the (region) tournament.”
Anoka-Ramsey 39 30 - 69
Central Lakes 24 41 - 65
Antone Darrington 5, Lemuel Doe 23, David Hicks 3, Lucas Barraud 5, Max Wessel, Corey Barrett 12, Chris Harmon 12, J.J. Butler 7, Henry Breedlove 2. FG 24-46 (52 percent). FT 17-24 (70 percent). 3 point 4-8 (50 percent).
Cody Hofmann 1, Michael Farrington 13, Ronnie Kornbaum 11, Maurice Hernandez 18, Kwamaine Johnson 7, Brandon Davis 9, Jesse Fleming 6. FG 26-57 (46 percent). FT 8-16 (50 percent). 3 point 5-19 (26 percent). Division: 7-2. Overall: 22-2. Next: host Minnesota West 3 p.m. Saturday.