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.
Ashley Arneson led all scorers with 16 points. Sierra Benning scored 13 points and Carlie Sweet added 12 off the bench. In limited time due to foul trouble, Lamb added 13 points to the offensive effort.
At the beginning of the season, CLC coach Dennis Eastman felt he was going to get a strong shooting season from his team with its additions at guard. The Raiders struggled with that mightily in the first half of the season, posting a 1-10 record.
The Raiders have turned that around in division play. One of the keys has been Monson, who going into Wednesday’s game was fourth in the division in scoring. CLC lost Monson to early foul trouble Saturday, and she finished with just six points in 16 minutes.
Arneson stepped up in her absence, along with Taalyr Egeness and Benning, who scored a combined 30 points from the back court.
“I think the big thing was that we needed to come together and play as a team,” said Arneson. “I just need confidence out there and we had a lot of assists out there as a team today and gave it our all.
“In the Wednesday game when I scored 19 points, that was my career high and I think that got me going, and has given me more confidence in my shooting and playing overall.”
Early in the game, the Raiders used second-chance opportunities to keep it close at 16-16. CLC then went on a 10-point run to take a 24-16 lead. The Vikings, with some good shooting from Brenda Brown, who scored 11 first-half points, made up part of the gap, and at halftime, CLC led 34-31.
Then, in the second half, Monson picked up her fourth foul less than two minutes in, and Egeness received her fourth a minute later. Lamb also picked up her third foul at the 15:00 mark and the Raiders looked to be in serious trouble.
“We started complaining about the calls, but then we decided to stop the complaining and change our game to accommodate the calls that were going against us,” said Arneson.
CLC built a 49-38 lead, which grew to 62-47 with seven minutes left. Arneson responded with 11 points, and Sweet had six in the second half and also played provided some key defense in place of Monson.
One of the keys to the second half was keeping the Vikings’ Brown in check as she only added four points to her total in the second half.
“I think the biggest thing was just how we are jelling as a team,” said Sweet. “I think when some of us came in late because of volleyball we didn’t know each other yet. We have really started to do that in this last five-game run, and we haven’t gotten down on ourselves.”
Itasca 31 23 — 54
Central Lakes 34 47 — 81
Brenda Brown 15, Jordan Haggeberg 6, Molli Durovec 14, Alissa Olson 2, Kayla Balstad 4, Lauren Guck 10, Tina Case 3. FG 16-70 (23 percent), FT 20-30 (67 percent). 3-point 2-15 (13 percent).
Sierra Benning 13, Jessica Kadus 5, Mariya Pierskalla 5, Ashley Arneson 16, Taalyr Egeness 11, Carlie Sweet 12, Lindsay Monson 6, Jalynn Lamb 13. FG 30-64 (47 percent), FT 15-25 (60 percent). 3-point 6-13 (46 percent). Division: 5-1. Overall: 6-11. Next: at Northland 6 p.m. Wednesday.