There is no higher percentage shot in basketball than a dunk.
And, against the Rainy River Voyageurs Tuesday, Central Lakes College Raiders men's basketball players Ron Jackson and Leonard Langdon made a living playing above the rim.
Jackson's and Langdon's aerial show propelled CLC to an 85-64 win. The victory was the Raiders' 10th straight and kept them unbeaten in the North Division at 10-0. CLC pushed its overall record to 17-4.
Langdon, who scored a game-high 20 points, and Jackson, who added 11 points, battled all game long to one-up each other. Langdon threw down a one-hander midway through the first. Shortly after Jackson followed with a dunk of his own.
In the second half, Jackson soared and finished off an acrobatic alley oop dunk. Not to be outdone, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Langdon sent the crowd into a frenzy with an alley oop of his own off a pass from Jackson.
But Jackson nudged Langdon in the dunk-a-thon when he threw down another jam late in the game.
"I had been slacking with the dunks for a couple of games," said Jackson. "I knew (Tuesday) that I was going to come back and get a couple and I was able to do that."
Russell said the Raiders' athletic play is a big reason why they're on such a roll.
"A big key is that we had some guys that came off the bench and provided a spark," Russell said. "Leonard was one of those guys. One of the reasons we're winning the way we are is that we have the ability to play above the rim. Rainy is very athletic so they brought that out in us."
Another big reason why CLC is on a tear is the play of shooting guard Travis Krenske. He finished with 19 points, including five 3-pointers.
But the pesky Voyageurs made a run in the second half and turned what was a double-digit deficit into a 65-56 Raider lead. It didn't help either that with more than 10 minutes left, Rainy River was already shooting double-bonus free throws.
"All game long I was trying to encourage them to move on defense," Russell said. "Move your feet and don't reach. The fouls came from the lack of energy. We tried to get away with things that Rainy was getting away with on our end but it wasn't happening."
Raiders 85, Rainy River 64
Leader: Leonard Langdon scored a game-high 20 points.
Next: at Northland, 8 p.m. Thursday
Langdon squashed any hopes Rainy River had when he scored six straight points, highlighted by his alley oop dunk. CLC cruised the rest of the way, hitting six straight free throws.
Being ranked No. 1 in the state has given the Raiders something they aren't accustomed to: A big red bull's-eye on their back.
"It's been a rough week of practice and we're just trying to fight through it all," said Langdon. "Teams are really starting to come at us and they bring their best games so it's hard every night. Nobody takes a night off against you so you can't take a night off either."
Rainy River 26 38 -- 64
Central Lakes 41 44 -- 85
Lavar Gilbert 11, Eric Jeffries 12, John Larson 5, Gus Couto 2, Marcus Moore 15, Terrance Soriano 4, Mario Felix 6, Jason Haskins 2, Mychael Aker 7. Team totals: FG 22-71 (30.9 percent), FT 11-19 (57.9 percent). 3-pt FG: 5 (Moore 5). North Division -- 4-4. Overall -- 7-10.
Mike Pater 10, Louis Roseman 2, Ron Jackson 11, Travis Krenske 19, Andy Schmitz 8, Leonard Langdon 20, Chris Metcalf 2, Adam Carson 6, Michael Peeters 3, Eli McVey 3. Team totals: FG 34-65 (52.3 percent), FT 9-19 (47.4 percent). 3-pt FG: 6 (Krenske 5, McVey). North Division -- 9-0. Overall -- 17-4. Next game: at Northland 8 p.m. Thursday.
Rebounds -- CLC 37 (Pater 8, Jackson 7, Krenske 6), RR 34 (Jeffries 8). Assists -- CLC 22 (Jackson 7, Krenske 4, Schmitz 4), RR 10 (Jeffries 2).
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