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.
Lamb led the team in scoring with 22 points, and shot 10-17 from the field. CLC finished with a 44-percent shooting day and converted 14 of 18 free throw attempts. The Raiders also swept their season series with the Cardinals, having won by an 82-60 in January.
The win came for CLC with Taalyr Egeness, who is second in the Northern Division in three-point shooting, on the bench because of illness. Lamb, along with Carlie Sweet and Jessica Kadus, stepped up to fill the void of Egeness being out of the lineup.
“Our effort was good today,” Lamb said. “We needed someone to step up because Taalyr is a big part of what we do. We had to get out there and show that even with one less person we can be unbeatable and I think we did that.”
Sweet finished with 15 points, and collected 13 rebounds while Kadus played 27 minutes, finishing with 11 points and five steals. Both players gave the Raiders a great deal of energy and kept the Cardinals off-balance.
Lamb tallied eight points in the first half and 14 in the second. That included a stretch late in the second half where she hit eight straight as CLC ran away from Hibbing.
“We have come a long way from the beginning of the year,” said Lamb. “You can tell the first half of our season was not the best, but as we came together we have started to click. Right now I feel that we can only beat ourselves at this point.”
One telling stat that shows how far the Raiders have come is assists for the game where CLC held a 25-9 margin over the Cardinals. The Raiders also committed just 11 turnovers.
“One thing we have been working on is being more patient,” said CLC coach Dennis Eastman. “At the beginning of the year, we were taking shots too quickly, but I told the girls that if we just passed the ball around there may be an easier shot.”
The start of the game was not pretty for the Raiders as they were a bit sluggish. Eastman credited part of that to the team having six days off due to not having to play a division game Wednesday because Fond Du Lac is not fielding a team.
CLC took its first lead, 11-10, with 14:40 left in the first half. The Cardinals held the lead until a three-pointer from Kadus tied the game at 20. CLC proceeded to go on an eight-point run to lead 28-21, and stretched it to 40-29 at halftime. Lindsay Monson led the Raiders in the first half with 11 points.
Playing well in transition, the Raiders stretched the lead to 62-44 and never looked back. Along with Lamb’s 14 second-half points, Sweet totalled nine and had her biggest scoring day of the season along with great defensive play and leading the team in rebounds.
“We have been talking about that,” Eastman said of Sweet’s scoring. “She is very strong going to the hole. She has done that a lot but hasn’t been able to finish. She is starting to jell at the right time and it is nice to see her gain that confidence.”
With four games left, the Raiders are gaining confidence as the stretch run starts Wednesday at Itasca.
“I always tell them one person is not the team, it’s the entire community,” Eastman said. “All of them had their opportunity and they came up big today.”
Hibbing 29 38 — 67
Central Lakes 40 41 — 81
Arianna Zapata 13, Courtney Wirtanen 6, Amber Zapata 22, Leigh Lampton 2, Allana Lampton 13, Audra McAllister 11. FG 27-70 (39 percent), FT 8-17 (47 percent). 3-point 5-14 (36 percent).
Sierra Benning 8, Jessica Kadus 11, Mariya Pierskalla 2, Ashley Arneson 6, Carlie Sweet 15, Lindsay Monson 17, Jalynn Lamb 22. FG 33-75 (44 percent), FT 14-18 (78 percent). 3-point 1-9 (11 percent). Division: 8-2. Overall: 9-12. Next: CLC vs. Itasca at Grand Rapids, 6 p.m. Wednesday.