MINNEAPOLIS - The Central Lakes College men's basketball program has a long history but one thing had remained missing from its resume until Sunday.
That was a state title and after the Raiders' 66-59 victory over Vermilion it's no longer missing.
Central Lakes hoisted the title trophy, cut down the net and doused head coach Jim Russell with the Gatorade bucket all in celebration of its MCCC title.
Kody Braddix was named the tournament's most valuable player and Matt Moorman and C.J. Peeters were named to the all-tournament team.
It was the Raiders' third win in three days and just as they had done the previous two days, CLC used a suffocating defense to secure the win.
Raiders 66, Vermilion 59
The key: The Raiders forced 21 Ironmen turnovers
Overall: CLC 18-8, V 21-8
Next: CLC hosts Region 13B game, 8 p.m. Friday
Russell said his team has made huge strides in the last month and much of that can be attributed to the Raiders' sophomores - Braddix, Moorman, George Washington and LeNorris Drummond.
"This team has really come together. A month ago we were happy to make the state tournament," Russell said. "Now here we are with a state championship. These guys have come a long way.
"It starts with the leadership. All four sophomores rose to the occasion and the bench really provided us with some energy. This is a fun ride, the kids are playing well and playing with a lot of pride."
The matchup with Vermilion was tight nearly the entire way, with the Ironmen dominating the boards 43-27 but the Raiders forcing 21 turnovers. Central Lakes also went 21-of-27 (77.8 percent) at the line compared to Vermilion's 4-of-7 (57.1).
The Raiders held a five-point halftime advantage, 32-27, and went on an early second-half run to stretch their advantage to 45-34 at 11:33 remaining.
Braddix said coming out of the locker room strong in the second half was the difference.
"They are a tough team to stop on defense. They have some great shooters. But both teams weren't hitting right away. We came out a bit flat," Braddix said. "But we came out charging in the second half and that was the reason we took the game."
Central Lakes' large advantage was brief, however, as its lead shrunk to 56-53 with five minutes to go. Things stayed tight until the end as Vermilion crept within 62-59 with 29 seconds remaining, but two clutch free throws apiece from Moorman and Peeters sealed the game.
Moorman said coming through in the clutch in the state final was especially rewarding after falling in the same game last year in overtime to Northland.
"It feels good to take this championship after last year," Moorman said. "And now we get to head back home. It was all about the defense again. Defense is what got us here and defense wins championships."
Central Lakes 32 34 - 66
Vermilion 27 32 - 59
George Washington 7, Kody Braddix 12, Matt Moorman 13, Fritz Renelus 4, LeNorris Drummond 5, C.J. Peeters 12, Will Kornbaum 6, Justin Sutton 2, Dustin Monson 5. Team totals: FG 21-50 (42 percent), FT 21-27 (77.8 percent), Three-point baskets: 3-13 (Braddix, Moorman, Peeters), Turnovers: 10, Rebounds: 27
Nick Schulwitz 9, Adam Kado 2, Steve Berman 10, Eric McPherson 11, Ashley Thomas 14, James Dozier 8, Randy Daniel 5. Team totals: 25-61 (41 percent), FT 4-7 (57.1 percent), Three-point baskets: 5-19 (Birman 2, McPherson, Thomas 2) Turnovers: 21, Rebounds: 43 (Dozier 11)
Raiders down Minneapolis
Central Lakes defeated Minneapolis Community and Technical College 54-39 Saturday in the state semifinals. Minneapolis came into the tournament averaging 71.6 points per game.
Braddix had 16 points and Peeters added 13 for the Raiders, who forced 20 turnovers.
Central Lakes 29 35 54
Minneapolis 19 20 - 39
George Washington 8, Kody Braddix 16, Matt Moorman 8, C.J. Peeters 13, Dustin Monson 7, Will Kornbaum 2. Team totals: FG 20-45 (44.4 percent), FT 10-12 (83.3 percent), Three-point baskets: 4-11 (Braddix 2, Peeters 2), Turnovers: 14, Rebounds: 24 (Washington 6)
Will Bratzel 8, Quinton Jackson 3, Bill Cloak 4, Bob Bilitz 3, Cameron Hodges 9, Cortez Wallace 7, Nick Ables 5. Team totals: 13-36 (36.1 percent), FT 9-12 (75 percent), Three-point baskets: 4-14 (Bratzel 2, Hodges, Ables) Turnovers: 20, Rebounds: 29.
TY RUSHMEYER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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