The Central Lakes College Raiders wrapped up second place in the Northern Division with an 83-62 victory over the Northland Pioneers in their final regular-season game Saturday.
Vermilion won the division title and will advance to the Region 13 tournament, along with CLC. The region is Friday through Sunday at Anoka-Ramsey.
“Northland always comes and plays hard and I told my guys we haven’t blown anybody out all season so I don’t know why you think this will be a blowout,” CLC coach Jim Russell said. “If you want this, you need to step up and they stepped it up. The best part is how we shot the basketball.”
The first half of the game, which ended 40-35, was led by CLC’s Andre Thomas, who scored 22 points. Thomas finished the game with 27 as he totaled six threes.
“Thomas carried us the first half,” said Russell, “but the second half we just shared the basketball and that’s the team that we know and who showed up to play.
“I’m proud of them, proud for my sophomores with how they played the second half and all year.”
Northland held the Raiders at 20 points for almost six minutes while they gained a small lead, but a flurry of steals and high-percentage shots put the Raiders back in the lead before the buzzer.
Raiders sophomore Kevin Kuefler didn’t have a strong presence in the first half, but came out firing in the second half to finish with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I just knew that we had to be aggressive,” said Kuefler. “We were flat in the first half, defensively, so I had to come out and make a statement right away in the first five minutes of the second half.
“It was a nice win to end the season and gain some confidence. Should be a fun run coming up.”
Kahreem Horsley, who missed the Mesabi game due to injury, was back in full swing, scoring 10 points for the Raiders, who notched 18 points off of Northland turnovers. John Jedneak added 10 points for CLC.
“I think, overall, we finished the game showing the character of the team,” said Russell. “We didn’t shoot as well as we’d like to the first half but we took good shots that didn’t fall. We played their tempo and their style the first half and the second half was our style and tempo and that’s the big difference.”
Northland 35 27 - 62
Central Lakes 40 43 - 83
Tyler Anderson 6, Maurice Blackmon 13, Javon Freeman 9, Jaylon Gunderson 3, Davontae Ardoin , Jake Anderson 2, Tim Desrosier 2, Tyler Thomas 6, Taylor Scott 8, Jermaine Russell 13. FG 23-56 (41 percent), FT 13-17 (76 percent). 3-point 3-11 (27 percent).
Benji Subah 2, Andre Thomas 27, Nathan Holm 4, Tyler Flugum 7, Kevin Kuefler 11, Bryan Gichaba 2, Brandon Davis 7, Kahreem Horsley 10,John Jedneak 10, Brent Koehler 1. FG 27-59 (45 percent), FT 20-26 (76 percent). 3-point 9-19 (47 percent). Division: 12-2. Overall: 19-7. Next: Region 13 tournament Friday-Sunday at Anoka-Ramsey.