The NJCAA Division III No. 1 ranked Central Lakes College Raiders returned from Christmas break and opened the CLC Winter Classic with a 96-63 win over Hibbing on Friday night.
The Raiders, who hadn’t played since December 17th, improved their record to 14-0 in non-division play.
Maurice Hernandez had a big first half with 13 points and carried the team early in the game when they were struggling offensively. Ronnie Kornbaum and Brent Koehler each had 12 points.
“Maurice Hernandez did a great job for us being a threat with the ball inside,” said CLC head coach Jim Russell. “Our defense is what keeps us in games and wins games. I knew the second half would be hard to keep my guys motivated to play the game. Their coach did a good job knowing that he would need to slow us down with a zone and we did not shoot well, but we did dictate the tempo at the defensive end and giving up just 17 points in the first half to a college team is pretty impressive.”
The Raiders had three other players finish in double figures and received scoring from all 11 players that played. The Raiders’ bench outscored the Cardinals 46-3.
Trailing 3-0, the Raiders went on an 8-0 run, punctuated by a three-pointer from Hernandez at the 16:02 mark to take an 8-3 lead.
Points in transition allowed CLC to widened its lead to 24-10 after a three-pointer by Ronnie Kornbaum at the 8:39 mark. The Raiders held a 16-2 advantage in points off turnovers for the first half.
CLC held Hibbing to just six field goals, and the Cardinals finished 0-8 from behind the 3-point line.
“We knew that we wanted to wear them down in the second half and I think that we did that,” said Russell. “I think our bench is pretty deep but we just have to clean it up a bit. We probably have the deepest bench out of anyone. For us to continue with the intensity that we need, I am going to need everyone. We’re not going slow it down and these guys are having a lot of fun and gaining experience.”
Despite allowing 46 points to Hibbing in the second half, the final score at the buzzer showed a 33-point margin for the Raiders as they look to finish the tournament and non-division play with a 6:00 game on Saturday.
Hibbing 17 46 — 63
Central Lakes 46 50 — 96
Ryan Peterson 2, Josh Wagner 13, Marcus Nolen 13, Justin Newman 4, Quintin Wagner 10, Reese Ayers 1, Shaylon Fenstermaker 20. FG 20-45 (44 percent). FT 19-30 (63 percent).
Alonzo Williams 2, Cody Hofmann 3, Michael Farrington 8, Ronnie Kornbaum 12, Maurice Hernandez 13, Kwamaine Johnson 6, Brandon Davis 11, Kahreem Horsley 11, Matt Christenson 8, Jesse Fleming 10, Brent Koehler 12. FG 31-71 (43 percent). FT 27-35 (77 percent). Overall: 14-0. Next: vs. Hibbing in CLC Winter Classic 6 p.m. Saturday.