People as well as basketball teams tend to get what they expect. Some teams hope for good performances from their bench players and sometimes those hopes are fulfilled.
Other teams, good teams like the Central Lakes College Raiders women's squad, look to their bench players expecting them to hit the floor running and scoring.
Not surprisingly, the Raiders' bench has delivered exactly what's been expected. As a result, outstanding bench contributions have become just another part of the way CLC women do "basketball as usual."
While the rest of the state was watching the Vikings play football, a smattering of fervent fans were treated to a Raiders victory over the visiting Rainy River Voyageurs 63-59 Saturday afternoon.
This contest was not nearly as close as the final score. The Raiders, now 2-0 in the Minnesota Community College Conference Northern Division, held double-figure leads most of the game.
Amy Martinson led all CLC scorers with 16 points and Beth Frost contributed 11. Every Raider made the scoring column but Martinson and Frost were the only Raiders to reach double figures.
Frost did not start the game but once she came in off the bench she didn't waste any time making her presence felt.
"Beth sometimes can be like instant offense," said Raiders coach Dennis Eastman. "Coming off the bench takes some adjustment. It's almost harder than starting because starters know they're going to start so they can prepare themselves. Players coming in off the bench have to be sort of like a microwave, they have to heat up right now.
"That's what Beth did. She came into the game and boom, she hit a three the first time she touched the ball. She can flat out shoot. We just have to get her in situations where she feels comfortable to shoot. She played well today."
The Raiders' defense is strongest when they attack. And the offense is most productive when it moves the ball briskly. That's exactly how the Raiders played for most of the first half on their way to building a 16-point bulge.
"I liked the way everyone played defense," said Eastman. "Defensively, we came up with some big plays. Where we have our breakdown is on offense when we have a tendency to just stand around. Like, when Marty (Amy Martinson) gets the ball inside, everybody tends to stand around thinking that Marty is going to make the shot. They forget that she's in there getting pounded around. But our defense really saved us today."
Defense and accurate foul shooting. The Raiders made 18 of 24 free throw opportunities, including three key shots by point guard Heather Olson, to end the first half.
Olson put up a half-court attempt as time expired in the first half. The shot was off the mark but Olson was fouled in the process. Alone on the court, Olson was cool and collected as she toed the line and canned all three attempts. The points expanded the Raiders' lead to 36-20.
"That was kind of a blessing," said Eastman. "Heather wasn't supposed to take the final shot, Cassey (Veith) was. But Heather had the shot so she went up and the girl fouled her.
"People don't understand that those are the hardest free throws to make; you're standing all alone out there and people are looking at you. Heather knocked all three of them down and that really took a lot of air out of Rainy River."
The Voyageurs improved their shooting and ballhandling during the second half but could never overtake the tenacious Raiders, who held on for the 4-point win.
"Things got interesting at the end," said a relieved Eastman. "We let Rainy River come back but the thing that I liked was that we didn't panic. Sometimes you'd rather play a close game like this than a blowout because that's going to get you ready for times that I call crunch time, when you have to play a close game. We did that today.
"Overall, I was very pleased. We're 2-0 in the conference and in order to even think about a conference championship, you have to be able to win the games at home. This was a big win for us."
Rainy River (59)
Charity Herling 2, Katie Carlson 26, Aisha Hopkins 4, Steph tenCate 3, Sara Wittmers 4, Shannon Grinsell 3, Nadine Raeker 17. Team totals: FG 22-59 (37 percent), FT 9-17 (53 percent).
Central Lakes College (63)
Amy Solorz 3, Mandy Moore 1, Jeanna Baratto 9, Heather Olson 9, Beth Frost 11, Cassey Veith 7, Liz Reis 1, Becca Nagel 6, Amy Martinson 16. Team totals: FG 18-63 (29 percent), FT 18-24 (75 percent). Conference -- 2-0. Overall -- 4-6. Next game: At Mesabi 6 p.m. Wednesday.
3-point baskets -- CLC 9 (Baratto 2, Olson 2, Frost 3, Veith, Nagel); RR 6 (Carlson 3, Raeker 3). Total fouls -- CLC 19; RR 19. Halftime -- CLC 36; RR 20.
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