by ADAM GRUENEWALD
The Central boys’ basketball team improved to 3-2 on the season, winning three games this past week. They defeated Watertown-Mayer on the road last Tuesday, 69-51, edged Sibley East at home Friday, 56-53, and blew out Maple Lake on Saturday, 84-47.
Central 84, Maple Lake 47
Despite an early afternoon start, the Raiders came out ready to play opening up a 21-0 advantage en route to a convincing non-conference win over Maple Lake.
Head coach Nat Boyer was pleased with the way his team didn’t let up all game, maintaining a strong lead throughout.
“When you shoot like that combined with the defense we played, you’re going to be a lot more successful,” he said. “One of the big things is that ball movement and passing, that was a huge part of us getting open looks.”
The Raiders built the lead by the Irish to one shot on defense and rotating the ball around and finding open shooters beyond 3-point range on offense.
Reid Wenisch hit a three, Alex Eichner hit a jumper, Casey Clemensen made a floater and Wenisch hit another three and Clemensen hit another for a 13-0 advantage just 3 minutes into the game.
Isaac Hormann made a bucket and Noah Peterson followed with back-to-back treys for the 21-0 advantage.
Andrew Cardinal, who finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, said the run helped increase their focus.
“It just kind of boosted our energy, but we knew we had to keep it up and we weren’t going to let them come back,” said Cardinal,
Maple Lake’s Landon Claughey, who scored 12 points in the first half for the Irish, then hit a three, but Wenisch hit his third triple before Claughey hit another.
Andrew Cardinal then hit back-to-back threes and Eichner followed with a 3-point play for a 33-6 advantage not even halfway through the first half.
“We were getting it in the lane and kicking it out for open shots so that always helps,” he said. “We shoot a lot of threes and we make a lot so it’s kind of hard to outscore us.”
The defensive pressure kept up and so did the 3-pointers as Central hit 12 of them in the first half, compared to five for the Irish. The Raiders led 47-25 at the break.
Peterson, who had a game-high 19, made sure the Raiders didn’t let up early in the second half, quickly scoring eight points including a 3-pointer with about 13 minutes left to make the score 57-31.
“The big thing was there was no letdown,” said Boyer. “Not maliciously but knowing we’ve got to not let up because this can change at any time.”
The huge advantage gave Boyer a chance to try a few different lineups in the second half and get everyone some action as nine players total scored for the Raiders.
“We want to mix things up a little bit and give some different looks to different players,” said Boyer. “We go 8 to 10 deep on different occasions. Sometimes 11, depending on who we have. It was good to be able to see those different lineups.”
The 3-pointers kept coming too as the Raiders hit six more for 18 total on the afternoon.
“The thing I like to see as well is we end up with 12 2’s and we haven’t that many 2’s either,” said Boyer. “The outside opened up the inside and vice-versa and that’s what we need. It’s one of those nights where we were on the right end of it.”
In addition to Peterson, Brice Panning and Isaac Hormann each had 11 and Cardinal and Wenisch tallied nine apiece.
Maple Lake 25 22 47
Central 47 37 84
Maple Lake – Zach Johnson 2 6-6 10, Tony Goelz 2 0-0 6, Brandon Borrell 1 0-0 2, Landon Caughey 6 0-0 16, Nic Paumen 0 0-0 0, Sullivan Graham 0 0-0 0, Chase Olson 1 0-0 2, Evan Hertwig 0 0-0 0, David Stokman 3 4-4 11, Andrew Schonnesen 0 0-0 0, TOTALS 15 10-10 47
Central – Andrew Cardinal 3 0-0 9, Isaac Hormann 4 2-2 11, Alex Eichner 2 1-1 5, Reid Wenisch 4 0-0 12, Casey Clemensen 2 2-2 7, Nate Nemitz 0 0-0 0, Noah Peterson 7 0-0 19, Brice Panning 4 1-2 12, Kellen Erpenbach 0 0-0 0, Carter Clemensen 1 0-0 3, Zach Schnabel 3 0-0 6, Alek Bixby 0 0-0 0, TOTALS 30 6-7 84
Three Pointers – Maple Lake 7 (Caughey 4, Goelz 2, Stokman 1), Central 18 (Peterson 5, Panning 3, Wenisch 4, Cardinal 3, Hormann , Cas Clemensen, Car Clemensen), Assists 26 (Cardinal 10), Rebounds 30 (Hormann 8), Blocks (Panning), Steals 7 (Peterson 3)
Central 56, Sibley East 53
Brice Panning and Noah Peterson both came off the bench to spark the Raiders as they made just enough plays down the stretch to get a conference win over Sibley East.
Down by one point with over 3 minutes remaining, Noah Peterson drove to the basket and made a shot for a 50-49 lead.
After Sibley East tied the game with a free throw, Peterson, who had 17 points, drove for a layup again, but Darin Neisen answered with a 3-pointer with under 2 minutes left.
Brice Panning, who had 12 points, then drove and his defender lost his balance leaving Panning wide open from the left baseline with another defender closing. Panning made the shot for a 54-53 lead.
“I just got to make this,” said Panning. “If I don’t then I got to play defense.”
Andrew Cardinal then gave the Raiders a 3-point edge with two free throws with 39.3 seconds left and three missed free throws down the stretch didn’t matter as the Wolverines missed a deep 3-pointer as time expired.
Head coach Nat Boyer said his team was able to get to the basket in the second half.
“We knew they were going to play up on us and we had to get to the hoop,” he said. “That’s the big thing because that’s the way we’re going to win the game and the boys did that.”
The 3-point line again kept the Raiders in the game in the first have as Reid Wenisch hit three of them for 9 points at the break with Central holding onto a 28-22 lead.
Sibley East started the second half with a 9-0 run but Panning was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three to tie the game at 31-all with 13 minutes left.
It was Peterson and Panning who spurred the Raiders’ offense in a close second half as Peterson put scored 12 in the half, including a 3-pointer to tie the game at 41-all and another to put the Raiders temporarily ahead at 44-42 with about 6 minutes remaining.
“Noah did what Noah does,” said Boyer. “He brought us a lot of energy off the bench. That’s one of the reasons he’s our sixth man. He can very easily be a starter for us but it’s good to have that energy and that scoring off the bench… In order to be successful team, you’ve got to have guys like that that will accept their role.”
Panning said he and Peterson are developing a strong mentality coming off the bench.
“I kind of think of him as my partner,” he said. “We usually talk to each other before the game and say we’ve got to be on. Just got to work together.”
Boyer said Panning and Peterson are an example of the depth his team has.
“That’s kind of what we live on, we have different guys that step up every night,” he said. “You go through any different night and we’ve got guys that can score and step up. That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on.”
Panning said the close win helps his team gain confidence.
“It’s a lot of momentum going forward and nothing can stop us right now,” said Panning. “When we hit our shots, we’re on and when we don’t, we just got to work as a team.”
Sibley East 22 31 53
Central 28 28 56
Maple Lake – Zac Weber 1 0-0 2, Brody Rodring 0 4-4 4, Jordan Petzel 6 0-0 15, Ben White 1 2-2 4, Cordell Bates 1 1-2 3, Andrew Bullert 1 3-6 5, Darin Neisen 5 1-1 14, Lukas Bullert 1 0-0 2, Zach Garza 0 0-0 0, TOTALS 17 13-17 53
Central – Andrew Cardinal 1 2-2 4, Isaac Hormann 1 0-3 2, Alex Eichner 1 0-0 2, Reid Wenisch 4 0-0 12, Casey Clemensen 1 0-0 3, Nate Nemitz 1 0-0 2, Noah Peterson 6 2-2 17, Brice Panning 4 3-3 12, Kellen Erpenbach 0 0-0 0, Carter Clemensen 0 0-0 0, Zach Schnabel 1 0-0 2, TOTALS 20 7-10 56
Three Pointers – Sibley East 6 (Petzel 3, Neisen 3), Central 9 (Wenisch 4, Peterson 3, Panning, Cas Clemensen), Assists 12 (Peterson 3, Hormann 3), Rebounds 32 (Cas Clemensen 6, Hormann 6), Steals 7 (Cardinal 2)
Central 69, Watertown-Mayer 51
The Raiders defeated Watertown-Mayer on the road in a key Minnesota River Conference contest.
They led 31-19 at the break before winning, 69-51.
Three-pointers were key again as they hit 17-of-32, compared to just four makes for Watertown-Mayer.
Reid Wenisch was one of four Raiders in double figures as he led the way with 13 points. Brice Panning, Isaac Hormann and Noah Peterson each added 12.
Central – Reid Wenisch 4 1-2 13, Brice Panning 5 0-0 12, Isaac Hormann 4 0-0 12, Noah Peterson 4 0-2 12, Casey Clemensen 3 1-1 8, Andrew Cardinal 3 0-0 7, Carter Clemensen 1 0-0 3, Kellen Erpenbach 1 0-0 2, Alek Bixby 0 0-0 0, Nate Nimitz 0 0-0 0, Alex Eichner 0 0-0 0, Zach Schnabel 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25 2-5 69
Three Pointers – Central 17 (Wenisch 4, Hormann 4, Peterson 4, Panning 2, Cas Clemensen, Cardinal, Car Clemensen), Assists 19 (Hormann 7, Cardinal 7), Rebounds 21 (Wenisch 4), Blocks 1 (Nimitz), Steals 13 (Wenisch 3, Eichner 3)
The Raiders next played at Mayer Lutheran on Tuesday and host Rockford tonight before hosting a tournament on Dec. 27 and 28.
“We want to continue to put ourselves in a good position for sections and also be able to see where we stand with the rest of the teams in our subsection,” said Boyer.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at email@example.com.