With a pair of wins away from their home court, the Central boys’ basketball team is off to a quick start this season.
The Raiders went on the road to defeat Maple Lake 74-58 in the season opener on Nov. 30, then limited Legacy Christian’s offense in a 53-36 win at the Target Center the following day.
“Very nice way to start the season. We saw some good things and some areas where we definitely needed work,” said Raiders head coach Nat Boyer. “We were pleased with the effort that we saw on both nights. Again, we know that we need to get better every game and every practice.”
Central 74, Maple Lake 58
Thanks to some sharp shooting, the Raiders built a 30-22 lead by halftime, then scored 44 points in the second half to widen their lead. Central shot 64.4 percent from the field and went 4-8 from the three-point line during the game.
“We shot the ball extremely well at Maple Lake. Our defensive pressure and intensity showed up in spurts throughout both games. That is something that we need to continually dial up,” said Boyer.
The Raiders committed 23 turnovers while forcing just 10, but held an edge in the rebound department 32-28.
Andrew Cardinal was Central’s top scorer with 22 points. Tom Messner had 15 points and eight assists, while Luke Marschall (eight points, 12 rebounds four assists, four blocks) and Kyle Brazil (eight points, two steals) were also key contributors.
Central 53, Legacy Christian 36
The second game of the week was a closer battle with Legacy Christian at the Target Center. The teams were evenly matched through the first half, with Central holding a 21-17 edge at the break, but the Raiders scored 32 points in the second half to pull away.
“It’s always fun to play on the Big Stage. We played real tight in the first half, but broke it open in the end and that was the difference in the game,” said Boyer.
Central’s shooting was cold in comparison to the first game, as the Raiders connected on just 31.6 percent of their shots. Evidence of nerves could also be seen at the free throw line, where the Raiders went just 6-16 (37.5 percent).
The Raiders did much better in the turnover department, however, forcing 19 turnovers while giving up just 10, and Central also blocked eight shots to Legacy Christian’s two.
Messner scored 15 points with four assists and two blocks. Marschall had 12 points with a team-high eight rebounds, along with two assists and four blocks.
Brazil had 10 points and five rebounds, and Cardinal scored eight points with four rebounds. Trevor Groschen added seven rebounds and two blocks.
“[It’s a] team game, each player did what they had to and stepped up at the necessary time. We are fortunate to have a bunch of ‘we’ guys and not ‘me’ guys on this team. That is what we stress and that is what the boys have been doing,” said Boyer.