An up-tempo offense, strong post play and aggressive defense helped the Central girls’ basketball team off to a 6-0 start this season, but the Raiders finally met their match against state-ranked Jordan last week.
A close game eventually turned into a 58-48 home loss to the Jaguars (ranked No. 9 in Class 2A) on Tuesday, Dec. 18, but the Raiders resumed their winning ways just two days later with a road win over a very tall Delano squad.
Central is now 7-1 on the season, including a 3-1 record in Minnesota River Conference play.
The Raiders are hosting a holiday tournament along with the boys’ team on Dec. 28-29. The first game for the Central girls is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28 against Nevis.
Central 48, Jordan 58
Both teams struggled to score for much of the first half, with the Raiders failing to click on a number of good looks but playing tough defense on their own end of the court. Things loosened up a bit in the latter part of the first half, but with Jordan holding a 21-19 lead and the final seconds ticking off the clock, one of the MRC’s best players shifted the momentum. Jordan’s Madison Dean sank a long shot from three-point range at the buzzer to build a five-point lead at the half.
Central started slow in the second half once again.
“It seemed that we were frustrated and rushed our shots on offense,” said Raiders head coach Gary Lembcke.
The result was a sustained run by Jordan to build a 15-point lead about midway through the second half. While Central responded and reduced that deficit to four points, Lembcke said that a critical call went against the Raiders, forcing them to foul the remainder of the way and allowing Jordan to rebuild a 10-point lead by the end of regulation.
Central shot just 17-71 during the game, or just under 24 percent from the field.
Lexi Erpenbach led the team with 25 points, but no other Raider reached double-digits in scoring. Brooke Willemsen had eight points and a team-high 13 rebounds, Kaylie Brazil had six points and six steals, and Sami Jo Brinkmann had six points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Central 62, Delano 54
While cold shooting seemed to carry over at the start of the week’s second game at Delano, the Raiders kept their composure and soon established a first-half lead.
“I was very pleased with the energy we started with against Delano after a tough loss to Jordan,” said Lembcke. “We did not shoot well again at the start of this game, but we didn’t get down on ourselves. We built a 10-point lead by the middle of the first half and Delano never got within five points the rest of the game. We seemed to always answer with a big stop on defense or work for a good shot on offense to work our lead back to double figures each time.”
The Raiders held a narrow 28-25 lead at halftime but extended that margin through the second half.
Erpenbach had 19 points, four assists and three steals, and Brazil scored 18 points with six assists and three steals.
Willemsen also reached double figures with 13 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Brinkmann added five points with four rebounds, five steals and two blocks shots.