by ADAM GRUENEWALD
The Central boys’ basketball team went 2-1 this past week.
They defeated Sibley East on the road last Thursday, 59-48, defeated GFW on the road on Saturday, 45-39, and came up short against Mayer Lutheran on Monday, 56-48.
Now 4-6 in the Minnesota River Conference, the Raiders are seventh. Mayer Lutheran is atop the conference at 9-1.
Mayer Lutheran 56, Central 48
In a heated rivalry game in front of a packed house in NYA it was Mayer Lutheran who emerged victorious, defeating Central, 56-48.
The Crusaders were ahead by only three with about six minutes left after Noah Peterson found Brice Panning for a layup on a fast break, 43-40, but LHS went on a 13-3 run to close the game.
Cole Buttenhoff made a pair of free throws and Sam Schlueter followed with a bucket inside for a 47-40 advantage.
Isaac Hormann, who scored all eight of his points in the second half, then converted an and-one, but Schlueter made a bucket inside.
Taylor Otterstatter followed with a key three-pointer, John Mocol added a bucket and Schlueter then made a putback for a 54-43 edge with under 3 minutes left.
Mocol then hit two free throws to expand the lead to 13, a lead they would hold onto late despite missing some free throws.
Central head coach Nate Boyer credited LHS for their improvement and effort in the second half.
“Make no mistake about it it, they are a good team,” he said. “They are where they are for a reason. To play within 20 up there and within eight here, it shows that they’ve gotten better but we’re getting better.”
The diverse offense in the second half was a total shift for the Crusaders, who were led by Anthony Gruenhagen’s 12 first-half points.
“Anthony has been one of the top players in the conference and continues to be,” said Boyer. “We knew we had to keep an eye on him and make other guys step up and they did. Give them all the credit in the world, they stepped up and handled what they needed to. You roll the dice and try to eliminate different factors and we did and other guys stepped up and did it.”
The first half was a roller coaster as Central opened the game on a 10-0 run as Reid Wenisch and Peterson each hit early three-pointers.
“We wanted to come out aggressive against them and not let them get a jump on us,” said Boyer. “We knew if they got a jump on us we’d be in trouble. We came out a really started off with a lot of intensity and carried that and then we hit that spell.”
The Crusaders got it going though with a run of their own, capped by a three-pointer by Gruenhagen.
Mayer Lutheran would build a 26-17 advantage, but the Raiders closed the half on a 9-0 run highlighted by a three-pointer by Peterson and a late three-pointer by Kellen Erpenbach made it 26-26.
“We had some key plays and key guys stepped up,” said Boyer. “A number of guys stepped up. Different guys step up all the time, guys you don’t expect but they get the call and they go for it.”
Peterson and Brice Panning both had six points to lead the Raiders in the first half as they got contributions from a lot of different scorers.
“That tells you we’re moving the ball and we’re getting the shots we need,” said Boyer.
The Crusaders did take advantage of their size, getting seven offensive rebounds in the first half compared to eight total for the Raiders in the half. For the game, the Crusaders outrebounded Central, 30-12.
“We stuck in there and hung in there and scrapped,” said Boyer. “That’s what we’re all about. These guys kept moving and kept going after it.”
Peterson finished with 11 points to lead the Raiders while Isaac Hormann added eight. Gruenhagen finished with 13 points and Schlueter and Chad Anenson each had 10.
The game definitely had an intense atmosphere as both side of the court were packed in support of their respective teams and Central’s student section remained standing for the majority of the game, boosted by the cheerleaders, jazz kick team and the band.
“It’s a great crowd,” said Boyer. “We’ve got the best crowd, I think, in any gym. It’s hard to play here and they get behind their friends, they get behind their classmates, relatives and whoever. That’s going to be a driving force the rest of the season.”
LHS 26 30 56
Central 26 22 48
LHS – Joel Burfeind 0 0-0 0, Anthony Gruenhagen 5 1-3 13, Mason Diedrick 2 1-1 5, Cole Buttenhoff 2 4-5 8, Taylor Otterstatter 1 0-0 2, Chad Anenson 3 3-7 10, John Mocol 2 3-3 8, Sam Schlueter 5 0-2 10, Joe Zittergruen 0 0-0 0, TOTALS 20 12-21 56
Central – Andrew Cardinal 1 3-4 5, Noah Peterson 4 0-0 11, Casey Clemensen 2 0-2 4, Isaac Hormann 3 1-1 8, Reid Wenisch 2 0-0 6, Kellen Erpenbach 1 0-0 3, Alex Eichner 1 2-3 4, Brice Panning 1 4-4 6, Zach Schnabel 0 1-2 1, Carter Clemensen 0 0-0 0, TOTALS 15 11-16 48
Three Pointers – LHS 4 (Gruenhagen 2, Anenson, Mocol), Central 7 (Peterson 3, Wenisch 2, Hormann, Erpenbach), Rebounds – LHS 30, Central 12 (Peterson 4, Cardinal 4), Assists – LHS 11, Central 11 (Peterson 5), Steals – LHS 8, Central 13 (Peterson 3)
Central 45, GFW 39
The Raiders led 28-20 at the break and held on from there. In all, they shoting 33 percent from the field and went 7-of-12 from the free throw line.
“That was a game where we started off really hot and played well,” said Boyer. “We kind of let them get back into it before halftime… We stuck with them in the second half and knew it had to be tight.”
Peterson and Hormann each had 12 points to lead the Raiders, while Cardinal added six points and 11 rebounds. Also, Carter Clemensen and Kellen Erpenbach each had six points apiece on two three-pointers.
Central 59, Sibley East 48
The Raiders jumped out to a 35-19 halftime lead en route to taking the 59-48 road victory last Thursday.
Andrew Cardinal led the way with 10 points while Casey Clemensen posted eight points and eight rebounds.
Sibley East – TOTALS 18 9-15 48
Central – Brice Panning 3 0-0 6, Andrew Cardinal 4 1-2 10, Carter Clemensen 2 0-0 6, Alex Eichner 1 0-0 2, Casey Clemensen 3 1-3 8, Kellen Erpenbach 1 3-7 5, Reid Wenisch 3 0-0 8, Isaac Hormann 1 2-2 5, Noah Peterson 2 5-8 9, TOTALS 20 12-22 59
Three Pointers – Sibley East 3, Central 7 (Car Clemensen 2, Wenish 2, Hormann, Cas Clemensen, Cardinal), Rebounds – Sibley East 29, Central 32 (Cas Clemensen 8), Assists – Sibley East 13, Central 17 (Cardinal 4), Steals – Sibley East 11, Central 7 (Peterson 2, Cardinal 2), Blocks – Sibley East 0, Central 3 (Panning, Hormann, Peterson)
The Raiders next play at Jordan on Friday before three consecutive home games against New Ulm on Feb. 10, Belle Plaine on Feb. 13 and Tri-City United on Feb. 14.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at email@example.com.