The Mille Lacs Raiders boys basketball team had two remaining regular season games heading into the first week of March. The Raiders, who entered those games with a total of one win for the season, were looking for at least another “W” from one of those two final games. But, alas, Mille Lacs dropped both tilts and were scheduled to begin post-season on Monday, March 6 with a play-in to the Section 5A Tourney against St. John’s Prep.
One bright spot for Mille Lacs was the offensive performance turned in by Onamia junior Eric Pederson who, for the second time in the previous two weeks, posted eight three-pointers in games against Cromwell and McGregor. After two years of being Isle and Onamia being paired in boys basketball as the Mille Lacs Raiders, Pederson’s six three-pointers will be considered a record for most in a game. He also scored 35 points against McGregor, which is now a new Raider mark for most points in a game.
The McGregor Mercs hosted the Mille Lacs Raiders on Feb. 28 as both teams were looking to increase their positions in the standings heading into section play the following week. Mille Lacs took a 5-0 lead in the game, but the Mercs replied with a 13-0 run and never lost the lead from then on, doubling up on the Raiders by half-time, 42-21. Remarkably, the Raiders chipped away at the 21-point half-time deficit and were down by just eight points with three minutes remaining, thanks to 19 straight points by Eric Pederson, including five straight three-pointers and four free-throws.
The Mercs went 9-12 from the free-throw line down the stretch to secure the 83-65 win. The Mercs shot 56 percent from the field and made good on 24 of 33 free-throws, while Mille Lacs shot a respectable 44 percent from the field and were 11-14 from the charity stripe.
Pederson led both teams in scoring with Mille Lacs team records of 35 points in a single game and eight three-pointers.
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