By Johann Schroeer
As the varsity teams of Northfield and Rochester Mayo were waiting to warm up Tuesday evening, they were stalled by an exciting JV game. Both JV squads fought to the very end, with the Raiders ending up with the overtime victory.
The varsity game was just as exciting. The 8-3(4-3 in Big 9) Mayo Spartans, led by senior guard Isaiah Hanson, faced off against the 6-4 (4-2 in Big 9) Raiders. The Raiders started the first half hot, stringing together open 3-pointers and using their strength to get to the basket, jumping out to a quick 23-10 lead. Hanson led the Spartans back, using his sharpshooting to keep the game close. Junior guard Simon Lippert came off the bench hot, going 3/3 from downtown to widen the lead after Mayo fought back. Senior Soren Richardson continued his domination of the Big 9, finishing with 15 in the first half. Hanson matched him, also with 15 in the first half, but the Raiders went into the half with the lead, 42-37. In the second half, the outside shooting from both teams stopped, and the story of the game shifted down low. Junior forward Austin Koep used his muscle to his advantage, going to work down low and rarely missing. Northfield got into foul trouble, as Mayo went into the bonus with over 9 minutes left to play. They struggled to slow down Mayo senior Kai’ree Gadson, who took over down low, and the Raiders resorted to fouling. Gadson would finish the game 7/10 from the charity stripe. Hanson continued his hot shooting down the stretch, keeping the game close. But Richardson, who had a quiet second half, had the last laugh, hitting a clutch 3 from the top of the key, putting the Raiders up 3 with 49 seconds left. Both teams exchanged free throws, and as time expired, Gadson couldn’t connect on the step-back 3, and the Raiders took the victory, 78-75. Richardson led the Raiders in scoring finishing with 26, going 5/13 from behind the arc. Koep was close behind, with 24 on 11/16 shooting. For Mayo, Hanson did all he could, finishing with 31, shooting 55% from downtown. Northfield (5-2) jumped to 4th in the Big 9, while Mayo (4-4) dropped to 7th. The Raiders will look forward to their rivalry game, facing Faribault on Friday.