The fourth game of the season isn’t often labeled a must win game. But the Central Lakes College Raiders, who entered the game with a 1-3 record, were in need of a win and got it as they knocked of undefeated Anoka-Ramsey Rams in an non-division game Friday.
The Rams knocked CLC out of the playoffs two years ago and beat the nationally ranked Raiders last year.
Sophomore Brandon Davis finished with 18 points and fellow sophomore, Kevin Kuefler, scored 10 as the Raiders shot 52 percent from the floor.
“It feels so good,” said Davis. “All of our games have been close, and it was good to close this one out. We played well and I am proud of the guys.”
Raiders head coach Jim Russell used 12 players in the first half. Ten of those 12 players contributed to the 37-33 halftime lead.
“I have always been a true believer in playing a lot of guys because of the intensity that we play with,” said Russell. “I think our bench really helped us to win the game today. Getting those minutes was good for them. Overall a great effort and a good team win.”
The game was tied at 16 with 10 minutes left in the first half. The Raiders trailed 24-21 before closing out with a 16-8 run to end the first.
The Raiders turned the ball over just four times in the first half and forced 15 Rams’ turnovers. CLC turned those into 14 points.
Both teams stepped up their offense in the second half with the Raiders outscoring the Rams 17-10 in the first four minutes to lead 54-43. CLC kept the lead at 10 until A-R called A timeout with the Raiders leading 76-66.
The Rams rattled off eight-straight points. Five of those came from Montez Wilkerson, who finished with 18 to lead the Rams.
The Raiders struggled with the Rams’ full-court pressure and with 43.7 seconds left only led 80-79. Tyler Flugum made the front end of a bonus situation and the Raiders stretched the lead to two points. Wilkerson then had two 3-point looks on two possessions in the last 15 seconds, but missed both.
“I think we have a good team with a lot of pieces,” Davis said. “We are just trying to find the right rotation. As for me, I think that I played hard and brought it home as one of the leaders on the team and plan on doing that more often.”
The Raiders will try to earn a sweep of their weekend games with a matchup against Riverland.
“It was a great effort and a great college basketball game,” Russell said. “We are still in the learning stages and I am still learning who can handle it at the hand. We are coming along. They are a good team at 4-0. Some guys stepped up like the sophomores with Brandon (Davis) and Kevin (Kuefler) played a lot of minutes for us. Those guys are starting to figure out what we need to do and they are doing it.”
Anoka-Ramsey 33 46 — 79
Central Lakes 37 44 — 81
Jon Conner 11, Montez Wilkerson 18, Lucas Barraud 16, Joe Lyons 13, Perri Vaden 5, Sam Willis 4, Brian Sarvela 4, Blake Williams 6, Henry Breedlove 2. FG 31-61 (50 percent). FT 4-10 (40 percent).
Benji Subah 2, Marcus Brown 9, Andre Thomas 10, Tyler Flugum 10, Kevin Kuefler 15, Bryan Gichaba 4, Brandon Davis 18, Kahreem Horsley 4, John Jedneak 5, Brent Koehler 4. FG 33-64 (52 percent), FT 6-11 (55 percent). Overall: 2-3. Next: host Riverland 3 p.m. Saturday.