With two more wins and a loss, the Central girls’ basketball team ran its overall season record to 11-3 after three games last week.
The Raiders also maintained their hold on second place in the Minnesota River Conference with a 5-1 league record. Jordan has gone 6-0 in MRC play and leads the league.
Last week the Raiders opened play with a 64-47 win at Rockford on Monday, Jan. 7. They then picked up a 77-62 home win over Belle Plaine on Thursday, Jan. 10 before losing 73-64 at Glencoe-Silver Lake on Saturday, Jan. 12.
Central 64, Rockford 47
A fast start and disruptive defensive play allowed the Raiders to cruise to a comfortable road victory in the first game of the week.
Lexi Erpenbach led the way for the Raiders, hardly missing a shot from the field. She scored a team-high 27 points while going 13-15 (86 percent) on shot attempts, notching four steals and adding two assists. By halftime, the Raiders had put Rockford in the rearview mirror and established a 40-19 lead.
“We caused them to turn the ball over a lot, which let to easy fast break baskets,” said Raiders head coach Gary Lembcke. “We controlled the game even though they ended up outscoring us the second half.”
Brooke Willemsen and Sami Jo Brinkmann were defensive leaders for the Raiders. Willemsen grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds, along with two steals, two blocked shots and four assists. Brinkmann had 11 rebounds, four steals and five blocked shots.
Other leaders for the Raiders included Morgan Karnes (14 points, seven rebounds and four steals) and Kaylie Brazil (13 points, eight assists and seven steals).
Central 77, Belle Plaine 62
Openings at both ends of the court led to a offensive second game of the week, but the Raiders had more firepower and were able to hand Belle Plaine (2-4) another conference loss.
Central gradually pulled ahead during the first half for a 36-26 halftime lead, but defensive breakdowns allowed the Tigers to stay within striking distance for most of the game.
“Offensively, we moved the ball and got open shots. Defensively we seemed to let Belle Plaine get the shots they wanted. We didn’t find their three-point shooters and we let their post players get position on us to get easy inside baskets,” said Lembcke.
Brazil and Erpenbach combined to drive the Central offense. Brazil scored 22 points with eight assists, seven steals and six rebounds. She shot nearly 70 percent from the field, including a 4-4 night from three-point range. Erpenbach had 19 points with six assists and two steals.
Nicole Miller scored 12 points with five rebounds, while Brinkmann added 10 points with nine rebounds, three steals and four blocked shots.
Willemsen led the team with 11 rebounds, and Karnes added seven rebounds and three steals along with six points.
Central 63, G-SL 73
Things simply didn’t go Central’s way in the final game of the week at Glencoe. After the team’s primary post players found themselves in foul trouble early in the first half the Panthers were able to operate at will in the paint.
“Glencoe controlled the boards, getting lots of second chances on put-back rebounds. We also put little defensive pressure on them so they were able to run their offense and got the shots they wanted,” said Lembcke.
Despite that disadvantage, the Raiders only trailed 29-26 at halftime and Lembcke said he was feeling optimistic about the team’s chance to rally in the second half, but the Raiders were unable to build momentum after the break. While they did manage to briefly tie the game at 50 points apiece, the Panthers responded with a 10-0 run to clinch the win
“We really struggled in this game,” said Lembcke.
Erpenbach led the Raiders with 25 points, and also added six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Karnes scored 10 points with three steals, Brazil had nine points with four assists, and Willemsen scored eight points with four rebounds and two steals. Brinkmann also added eight points and blocked two shots.
Contact Paul Downer at [email protected]