If the Central Lakes College Raiders' men's basketball team had been looking for an excuse to lose Friday night in Worthington, they could have easily found one. Instead, the team showed maturity and a knack for overcoming the adversity of a changing lineup as it defeated Minnesota West 84-79.
Forget the tiring, four-plus hour drive to Worthington. The team learned shortly before leaving CLC that its top player from last season, Dwayne Mabon, had left the team. Mabon, according to Raider head coach Jim Russell, had been experiencing difficulties on and off the court this season. Those problems culminated in Mabon leaving the team. Russell could not say whether Mabon planned to remain enrolled in school.
On the court, Russell moved off-guard Joe Nayquonabe into the starting lineup. The 3-guard look resulted in a 5-point Central Lakes College victory.
"Dwayne is gone now so we move on as a team," said Russell. "With Joe in there, we had a little smaller lineup but this was one of our best team efforts offensively. We took care of the basketball."
Wade Mortenson led the Raiders with 21 points. He also collected 14 rebounds which, along with Julian Greer's 12 rebounds, keyed the strong defensive play of the Raiders.
"We were dominating on the boards," said Russell. "They didn't have the size that we do. I think we out-rebounded them by something like 38-26. Minnesota West has a couple of really good 3-point shooters and that's what kept them in the game.
"In the second half, we went to a match-up zone and that caused some problems for them."
Julian Greer, with his usual reliable offensive output, scored 17 points. Garth McFadden added 12 points, Jay Mrozek 11 and Joe Nayquonabe 10. That balanced scoring is what Russell likes to see from his team.
"The scoring tells you how we played," said Russell. "We really played very well together as a team; we shared the basketball. This was a good win for us, especially coming on the road."
After the game, the team traveled to Willmar where it was scheduled to play Ridgewater Saturday afternoon.
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