Last week, both the boys and girls Mille Lacs Raiders basketball teams picked up their first wins of the season — the boys beating non-conference Floodwood and the girls topping conference rival East Central.
The Mille Lacs Raiders boys basketball team, who played host to the non-conference Floodwood Polar Bears on Jan. 24, were looking for their first win of the season, and after the two-month winless drought, they finally notched a “W” with a hard-fought 64-56 victory.
The win was anything but a walk in the park. As they had done so many times this season, the Raiders built what looked like a convincing lead with seven minutes remaining in the first half, only to see that 14-point advantage slip away when they allowed the Polar Bears to go on a 22-8 run to tie the score at 35-35 by intermission.
Floodwood’s coach told his players just before the opening of the second period not to “come out flat” and they did what the coached asked, outscoring Mille Lacs 7-2 five minutes into the final half. But a daring three-pointer by Isle sophomore Josiah Mueller followed by another from long range by Onamia junior Eric Pederson, put the Raiders just one point back.
The Raiders worked their way to a three-point lead by the midway point of the half and the lead was three points with just three minutes remaining when Mille Lacs coach Jason Runyan called for his players to stall for a bit and only take sure shots. The team responded and built a seven-point lead with just a little over two minutes left.
The Polar Bears went cold from the field the final few minutes while the Raiders scored six points to seal the big, eight-point win.
Although eight different Raider players found their way into the scoring column, possibly the game balls ought to have been awarded TJ Remer and Hunter Haggberg who combined for 19 points with aggressive play in the paint scoring many of their points on put-backs.
Mille Lacs finished shooting 38 percent from the field and Floodwood 35 percent.
Floodwood 35 21 56
Mille Lacs 35 29 64
Scoring: Remer 16, Haggberg 13, Tompkins 8, Pederson 7, Mueller 7, Schleis 6, Gallion 5, W. Gahbow 2
On Jan. 27 the Onamia High gym, the East Central Eagles used their overall height advantage which led to multiple put-backs under the net to rout the Mille Lacs Raiders, 76-48.
The Eagles had four players score in double figures, including Jacob Dixon who had 29 points (with no threes). Mille Lacs was led on offense by Eric Pederson and Thomas Schleis who combined for 27 points. Fifteen of the Eagles 76 points were on free-throws.
East Central 40 36 76
Mille Lacs 27 21 48
Scoring: Pederson 14, Schleis 13, TJ Remer 6, Mueller 6, Gallion 4, Tompkins 3, Haggberg 2
The Mille Lacs Raiders girls basketball team suffered its 12th consecutive loss of the season on Jan. 24 at the hands of the Upsala Cardinals, who built a 12-point lead by half-time and won the second period by 10 points to record a convincing 68-46 victory.
A highlight of the evening for the Raiders was the 20 points put up by junior guard Katlyn Schoeck which included six three-pointers.
Mille Lacs 18 28 46
Upsala 30 38 68
Scoring: Schoeck 20, Orazem 8, Strecker 8, Simmons-Merrill 6, Paulsen 2, N. Merrill 2
Displaying some of the most tenacious defense to date, the Mille Lacs Raiders earned their first win of the season with a solid 45-39 victory over the conference foe, East Central Eagles, on Jan. 26 .
The Raiders used a swarming press the entire game on defense which held the Eagles to just two baskets during the first nine minutes of the first period and three for the entire half to take a 21-9 lead by intermission.
Playing East Central even-up through the first five minutes of the second period, the Eagles whittled the Raiders’ 12-point half-time lead down to just five points twice during the remaining time, but Mille Lacs responded with key scoring, especially from the foul line late in the game to win by five.
In the end, the game may have been won at the freethrow line where the Eagles made good on just 16 of 33 tries, while the Raiders were 12-20 from the charity stripe.
Coach Aleia Haggberg shook up her line-up for this contest, extensively using girls who had been bench players, and those players delivered. Eighth-grader Mariah Remer came through with seven points, including some clutch freethrows late in the game and played solid as the point guard much of the night. Alexa Paulsen, Mallory Vanbuskirk, Paige Strecker and Celleia Simmons-Merrill also played important roles in the win, as did junior Katlyn Schoeck, who led the Raiders on offense with 16 points.
With under one minute remaining, and up by just four points, Schoeck and Simmons-Merrill came through at the foul line, going 4-4 to seal the victory.
East Central 9 30 39
Mille Lacs 21 24 45
Scoring: Schoeck 16, Simmons-Merrrill 7, M. Remer 7, Paulsen 5, Strecker 4, Vanbuskirk 4, Orazem 2
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