The Central Lakes College men's basketball team knows that in order to qualify for the playoffs and make a run in the postseason, it'll need contributions from its bench.
The Raiders received a key contribution from sophomore Nick Otterson in the form of 15 points off the bench, including a pivotal 3-pointer, to help lead CLC past an improved Itasca College Viking squad 85-74 in North Division play Wednesday.
Otterson, who had started at the beginning of the season, scored four points in the first half and 11 in the second half to help spark CLC.
"I realized that I was more comfortable coming off the bench," said Otterson. "There's not as much pressure on and I can come in, pick my spot and shoot the ball. I hadn't been hitting the three much this season but I was able to come in the game and hit a critical one."
Central Lakes College guard Gunther Zajic handled the ball against Itasca College. The Raiders beat the Vikings 85-74 Wednesday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Otterson's long ball came with 7:30 to go in the game and was a part of a 14-0 CLC run. That run turned a nip and tuck game in which the Vikings led at the time 62-58 and gave the Raiders the lead for good.
A Joe Kavanaugh jumper started the run, followed by an Otterson jumper. Gunther Zajic, another bench contributor, was fouled on a 3-point attempt and drained all three foul shots.
"We know Nick and Gunther can shoot the ball when they get their feet set," CLC coach Jim Russell said. "This is all part of the team effort. I tell the bench guys all the time to be ready to go. It's never about the five guys that start the game. It's about the five guys on the court making things work."
Itasca was able to pull within three at 77-74 but a Joe Kavanaugh rebound and put back put the game out of reach. CLC then hit six free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Kavanaugh and guard Aaron Whitelaw each finished with 19 points while Kody Braddix had 11 and Matt Moorman scored 10. Kavanaugh added 11 rebounds for his third double-double in the past four games and Reid Edison handed out seven assists. Braddix and Kavanaugh each had four steals as well.
Raiders 85, Itasca 74
The key: CLC received 15 points off the bench from Nick Otterson, including a key 3-pointer, to help the Raiders to their fourth straight win.
North Division: CLC 4-1, IC 0-5
Overall: CLC 11-7, IC 6-10
Next: CLC at Mesabi Range 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Raiders looked to be well on their way to a blowout as they built a huge 30-15 lead. But that lead evaporated quickly as the Vikings outscored CLC 25-9 the rest of the half.
A Kavanaugh layup and jumper at the buzzer helped pull the Raiders within one at the break at 40-39.
"The first half was frustrating because we thought we had Itasca put away," Russell said. "When you give a good team a chance to get back in the game and let them think they can win then you can get in trouble. We got flat and they got hot."
Itasca College 40 34 - 74
Central Lakes 39 46 - 85
Aaron Whitelaw 19, Kody Braddix 11, Gunther Zajic 6, Matt Moorman 11, Reid Edison 2, Joe Kavanaugh 19, LeNorris Drummond 3, Nick Otterson 15. FG 30-58 (52 percent), FT 20-28 (71 percent). Three-point baskets: 5 (Whitelaw 2, Moorman, Zajic, Otterson).
Traise Wilson 13, Roman Brown 8, Brandon Roiko 6, Josh Towle 14, Eric Blair 8, Chris Torh 17, Keith Stommes 6, Adam Lund 4. FG 31-60 (52 percent), FT 6-16 (36 percent). Three-point baskets: 6 (Wilson 3, Brown 2, Blair).
Rebounds: CLC 27 (Kavanaugh 11, Whitelaw 5), IC (Torh 7). Assists: CLC 17 (Edison 7, Whitelaw 4), IC 11 (Towle 3). Turnovers: CLC 21, IC 26.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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