The Central Lakes College Raiders men's basketball team abandoned a deliberate style and decided to crank up its intensity in the second half.
The Raiders used a ball-hawking defense to create offensive opportunities as they scored 57 second-half points in a 90-52 victory over the Hibbing Cardinals Wednesday night.
The Raiders shook off a sloppy first half as they allowed Hibbing to hang around, giving the Cardinals a feeling they were very much in the game.
"The first half, they played a lot of zone and we had a hard time getting into a rhythm," said Raiders guard Joel Clough. "We just didn't execute in the first half and we turned the ball over a lot."
The Cardinals were in the game until the start of the second half. There, they could do nothing but watch as the Raiders opened with a 14-3 run that built a 47-27 lead.
That run was highlighted by seven Garth McFadden points and an athletic dunk by Jay Mrozek as he skied above the rim and put away a Brandon Flanders missed shot. McFadden led all scorers with 18 points and Mrozek finished with 12.
After a Justin Bessler lay-in, the Raiders went on a 15-4 run, as CLC put the game out of the Cardinals' reach. Flanders, Donald Byrd and Travis Janich, who all scored in double figures for the Raiders, led the charge this time as they upped the lead to 62-31.
The Raiders continued the onslaught for the rest of the second half as Daryl Burch and Adam Walker sank two three-pointers apiece, putting an exclamation mark on the Raiders' red-hot shooting night.
CLC shot the lights out in the second half by hitting 20 of 33 attempts. More importantly, the Raiders limited Hibbing to only 52 total points.
"Coming into tonight, our game plan was to pressure their wings and not let them get the ball," Clough said. "We just wanted to pressure them, not let them get any easy shots and force them into mistakes."
One mistake Hibbing made was trying to slow the Raiders' tempo as CLC came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, intent on making a point that it would play its brand of basketball.
"We played their style of basketball in the first half," Raiders coach Jim Russell said. "They wanted to slow the pace down and try to keep us in the 60s or 70s for scoring.
"We didn't want to walk up and down the court, that only gets you out of rhythm. Our key at halftime was defense because defense creates tempo."
Once again, the Raiders' bench play was outstanding. Russell believes that all of his players have bought in to the concept that whether they're a starter or a bench player, they are expected to produce.
"That's the great thing with our bench," Russell said. "When you're not in a rhythm, someone is always there to come off the bench and give the team a spark.
"That is what this team's about, playing together as a team. We're fortunate to have that."
Hibbing Community College 24 28 -- 52
Central Lakes College 33 57 -- 90
Justin Bessler 7, Ben Zilka 4, Rich Weber 8, Chris Kaml 12, John Ellich 3, Vincent Clark 5, Shaun Ballard 2, Jeremy Axtell 7, Chris Moench 2, Marcus Tworoski-Wise 2. Team totals: FG 19-55 (34 percent), FT 9-19 (47 percent). Conference -- 2-7. Overall -- 5-14.
CENTRAL LAKES (90)
Jay Mrozek 12, Garth McFadden 18, Joel Clough 5, Travis Janich 10, Reid Kuschel 4, Donald Byrd 11, Brandon Flanders 10, Adam Walker 6, Ryan Bouma 4, Daryl Burch 8, John Norquist 2. Team totals: FG 32-62 (51 percent), FT 13-16 (81 percent). Conference -- 6-3. Overall -- 14-5. Next game: host Rainy River 3 p.m. Saturday
3-point baskets -- CLC 11 (McFadden 4). Rebounds -- 35 (Janich, Flanders 6). Turnovers -- 17. Total fouls -- CLC 17, HCC 14. Assists -- CLC 23 (Damien Perry 6). Steals -- CLC 20 (Perry 5). Halftime -- CLC 33, HCC 24.
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