Two factors could determine what kind of season the Central Lakes College Raiders women's basketball team has this year.
The first is foul trouble, which players can control.
The second is injuries, and that is out of their hands.
What: Raiders at Fergus Falls
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
The key: The short-handed Raiders hope to avoid two things this season: injuries and foul trouble.
Nikki Perlinger 5-9 forward (Browerville), Jada Illies 5-11 forward (Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa)
Sarah Mulroy 5-6 guard (Pillager), Sandra Smith 5-1 guard (Northland-Remer), Greta Sorvik 5-5 guard (Onamia), LeaAnn Karlsgodt 5-7 guard (Brainerd), Courtney Stach 5-10 forward (Bertha-Hewitt), Andrea Almsted 6-0 forward (Brooklyn Center), Kristi Myers 6-2 center (Pequot Lakes)
30 - at Fergus Falls 6 p.m.
3 - MINNEAPOLIS 6 p.m.
4 - ANOKA RAMSEY 6 p.m.
7 - FERGUS FALLS 6 p.m.
10 - at Ridgewater 6 p.m.
11 - at Minnesota West 1 p.m.
17-18 - PEPSI CLASSIC at CLC
7-8 - CENTRAL LAKES CLASSIC
11 - MESABI RANGE 6 p.m.
13 - at Itasca 6 p.m.
15 - at Hibbing 1 p.m.
19 - Minneapolis 6 p.m.
22 - NORTHLAND 1 p.m.
26 - at Rainy River 6 p.m.
29 - at Vermilion 1 p.m.
2 - HIBBING 6 p.m.
5 - ITASCA 1 p.m.
8 - RAINY RIVER 6 p.m.
10 - at Northland 6 p.m.
16 - Mesabi Range 6 p.m.
19 - VERMILION 1 p.m.
CLC already has lost freshman guard LeeAnn Karlsgodt for the season with a torn ACL, and fellow freshman Courtney Stach has been slowed with a hyperextended knee. With only eight able bodies on the roster, it will be imperative for the Raiders to stay out of foul trouble.
Despite the challenges already imposed on his squad, Raiders coach Dennis Eastman is excited to see if his team can better last year's record of 6-19.
"We've got some talent and I'm very happy with how hard the players are working," Eastman said. "We're going to have more height than we've had in the past. The season will come down to injuries and foul trouble."
Sophomores Nikki Perlinger and Jada Illies will be relied on to lead as CLC begins its season Tuesday night against Fergus Falls. The Raiders also face Minneapolis, the defending Division III national champion, Friday and perennial power Anoka-Ramsey on Saturday.
"Jada and Nikki will need to stay calm when things are going bad," Eastman said. "Our sophomores will need to step up and help the freshmen through these first few games. They will play a very crucial role with this squad. So far they're doing everything they need to do.
"We're taking on a tall order this first week. We're playing some of the best competition and I've told them repeatedly it's not where you start but where you end."
As a freshman Perlinger missed much of last season with an injured knee. Up to that point she was one of CLC's most consistent shooters. She averaged 3.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
"Nikki has worked hard and has gotten stronger since last year," said Eastman. "She'll play mostly power forward and shoot from the outside. She's going to have to score points for us."
Illies, a 5-foot-11 forward who likes to bang down low, was often in foul trouble last year and averaged 4.5 fouls a game. She averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds a game.
This year Illies will be counted on, not only for those points and boards, but for more minutes on the floor instead of on the bench.
"Jada has to take a leadership role on the team this season," Eastman said. "She'll play inside and go to the weak side so she'll go after a lot more rebounds. She has the ability to shoot but she has to quit hacking."
Stach, a freshman shooting guard, hyperextended her knee in practice.
Eastman expects Stach to play in the opener and is excited about the prospect of having an athlete like Stach. She received NJCAA Division III All-American honorable mention in volleyball.
"Courtney is going to be an impact player," Eastman said. "She has great speed and when we get a rebound she'll be gone. She's a scoring threat and she can jump out of the gym."
Sandra Smith, Greta Sorvik and Sarah Mulroy will play guard for CLC. The 5-1 Smith will run the offense from the point while the 5-5 Sorvik and the 5-6 Mulroy will be outside shooters.
Kristi Myers and Andrea Almsted give Eastman height inside. Myers is a 6-2 defensive stopper and shot blocker while Almsted is 6-0 and can step out and hit the jump shot.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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