Recap by Liam O’Neill
On Monday night, the Raiders squared off against the current top team in the Big 9 conference and class 3A #7 ranked Mankato East. This game was expected to be a nail biter, and to the surprise of few, it did not disappoint.
The Raiders were led by Senior Guard Soren Richardson, who dropped an incredible 38 points in the victory. The secondary scorer for the Raiders was Junior Forward Austin Koep, who scored 19. Both teams traded leads frequently throughout the first half with no team ever reaching a double digit lead in the half. One main theme of not only the half but the game for the Raiders was fouls. In total, the Raiders had 25 fouls. Foul trouble did not evade the Cougars as well as they finished with 19 total fouls, although
many of these were desperation fouls in the last minute of the game. Foul trouble affected many starters for the Raiders including Junior Austin Koep, who fouled out, and both Senior Forward Dom Dimaggio and Sophomore Guard Isiah Mahal, who both finished with 4 fouls on the night.
For the Cougars number 20 Dwuan Reliford fouled out, and number 2 Brogan Madson finished with 4 fouls.
The Raiders found tremendous success at the free throw line, shooting 95% from the stripe, going 22/23. This success may be due to first year coach Matt Christianson’s adjustments in practice, the Raiders free throw percentage has been almost perfect as of late.
The second half was a whirlwind of 3 pointers and 3-point plays that would excite any basketball fan. The Raiders and Cougars exchanged leads frequently until around the 7 minute mark, where the Raiders managed to stave off the Cougars and extend their lead. During the 7 minute stretch to finish off the game, the Raiders played some of the best defense they have played all year, forcing long possessions and low percentage shots by the Cougars. This tremendous effort by the Raiders down the stretch is what can help them beat any opponent in the Big 9.
This statement win over the current top team in the conference and 2nd victory over a ranked team. Northfield won 76-60 over #10 ranked Austin on Jan, 5th. These victories have not only solidified the Raiders spot as legitimate threats in the conference, but has also opened many doors for them. If they can beat the best team in the conference, they can beat anyone else in the conference. The Raiders will look to go 2-0 against Mankato East this Thursday, and with another stellar performance by the Raiders, there is no reason they cannot take down the Cougars again.