A mid-season slump stretched to four games with a loss to Sibley East, but the Central boys’ basketball team bounced back with a pair of wins last week.
The Raiders went on the road and fell 60-56 to Sibley East on Tuesday, Jan. 22 before picking up back-to-back wins over Tri-City United by a 75-47 score on Friday, Jan. 25 and over Lester Prairie by a 58-56 score on Saturday, Jan. 26.
That split in conference games gives the Raiders a 3-4 mark in the Minnesota River Conference, which is good for fifth place. Overall, the Raiders are 11-5 on the season.
“The theme is the same, one game at a time and continually do whatever we can to outwork our opponent,” said Raiders head coach Nat Boyer.
Central 56, Sibley East 60
With a chance to make up ground on the team immediately above them in the standings, the Raiders instead walked away with a close, four-point loss in the first game of the week.
The Wolverines took an early lead and held a 28-21 lead at halftime. Though the Raiders outplayed the Wolverines in the second half and had a 35-32 advantage, it wasn’t enough to close the gap.
Both teams took 54 shots from the field and connected on 42.6 percent of them, but Sibley East went to the line 14 times and hit 11 free throws, while the Raiders went 5-8 from the line. That thin margin of opportunity afforded by fouls proved to be the difference in the game. Central committed twice as many fouls (16) during the game as Sibley East (eight).
Trevor Groschen was Central’s top scorer, tallying 23 points. Luke Marschall had a dozen points, a team-leading 11 rebounds and three blocks. Tom Messner chipped in seven points with four rebounds and six assists.
Central 75, TCU 47
A road matchup with the MRC’s weakest team was a good chance for the Raiders to break their four-game losing streak, and they made the most of that opportunity with their best offensive game in nearly a month.
The Titans were winless against conference opponents entering the game, and the Raiders dropped Tri-City to 0-8 in conference play with the win.
Central took a 37-28 lead by the end of the first half, and more consistent scoring, along with tighter defense, helped the Raiders extend their lead throughout the second half.
“We had a nice first half with some defensive breakdowns, but put a nice run together in the second half and really finished well,” said Raiders head coach Nat Boyer. “The effort the team put forth was second to none.”
The Raiders shot 57.7 percent, had a 27-17 edge in rebounds, and stole the ball 10 times.
Marschall had a big game, leading the team in three categories with 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
Messner had 13 points and four assists, and Groschen also scored 13 points. Andrew Cardinal was the fourth Central player to reach double-digits in scoring with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Central 58, LP-HT 56
Playing the second of two games in a row, the Raiders started well and put up just enough fight in the second half to prevail at home.
The Raiders took a 29-20 lead in the first half, but began to tire in the second. The Bulldogs scored 36 points in the second half and nearly caught up, but the Raiders countered with 29 points to win by one basket.
“We played very good defense in the first and did not force offensively. The second half, you could definitely tell that we were on the tail end of a back-to-back game and had some defensive letdowns,” said Boyer.
The Raiders shot just 38.2 percent in the game, but held the Bulldogs to 30.2 percent shooting. Central also had a 49-39 advantage on the boards.
Messner led the team in scoring and rebounds with 23 points and 12 boards.
Cardinal scored 12 points with six rebounds and three assists, and Marschall and Groschen each chipped in six points and nine rebounds.
Contact Paul Downer at [email protected]