The Central Lakes College Raiders women's basketball team will need to get plenty of sleep as it prepares to play four games this week.
The Raiders, who lost 56-54 to the Moorhead State junior varsity Monday, travel to Itasca on Wednesday and host Mesabi at 6 p.m. Friday and Vermilion at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"We're just going to take it one game at a time," Raiders coach Dennis Eastman said. "The players have to get proper rest, eat well and we'll scale down practices. Eighty percent of this week is going to be mental and we have to be ready to play."
The Raiders (4-1 North Division, 6-7 overall) have won four straight games and defeated Mesabi and Vermilion two weeks ago. As well as things are going for the Raiders, they know they can't look past anyone, especially Itasca.
"I've told them this is a game we're supposed to win," Eastman said of Itasca. "That doesn't mean they're just going to give it to us. Itasca is a tough place to play and we still have to go out and perform. We're not good enough to look past anybody."
CLC can expect Itasca's Darcie Maninga to give it fits. She's seventh in the North in scoring at 15 points a game and second in rebounding with 11 boards.
Saturday's game against Vermilion is shaping up to be a battle for second place in the North. Vermilion's Tashawna Williams is averaging close to 18 points and more than 10 rebounds a game.
In the past three weeks, the Raiders' offense has been firing on all cylinders and taking pressure off top scorer Val Diedrich.
"We need to keep working," Eastman said of his offense. "We can always improve on offense. We're also looking to cut down on turnovers, keep a good pace to the game and do the things we need to do to win."
The Raiders will look to avenge two earlier losses as they square off at home against Mesabi at 8 p.m. Friday and Vermilion at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Before the Raiders (3-2 North Division, 9-6 overall) can think about that, they will have to get past the Itasca Vikings on Wednesday.
"I'm afraid we're too keyed up for Friday and Saturday and that we'll forget about Wednesday," Raiders coach Jim Russell said. "(Itasca) can put up a lot of points at their gym and I hope we don't look past them."
It will be difficult to look past Itasca's Donny Diaz. He's third in the North in scoring at 21 points a game while hitting 57 percent of his three-point shots, tops in the North.
All three teams the Raiders play this week average well over 80 points and will test the state's top defense.
"We just need to make sure we help each other out," Russell said of his team's defensive play. "We're not expecting one person to stop anybody because we play team defense. The key is that we play as a team."
Mesabi's Angelo Griffin is another player the Raiders will have to keep a close eye on. Griffin leads the state in scoring at 25.3 points while shooting a state-best 76 percent from the field.
"We're going to try to limit (Griffin) on the free throw line," Russell said. "That's where he gets a lot of his points. We'll worry more about Mesabi's other players. If we can stop the other guys we'll be OK"
Russell said the Raiders' offense won't change much. They'll still pound the ball in to forward Tony Monson, who leads the Raiders in scoring at 13.1 points.
If CLC can get its inside game going, Russell is hoping the perimeter shooting of Daryl Burch, Deejay Mayfield and Justin Heitkamp will follow.
"We're going to attack inside as quick as we can," said Russell. "I don't think anyone can guard our faster post guys. We can shoot the ball well from the perimeter once our inside game is established."
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