COLUMBUS – A familiar foe awaits the Central Community College Raiders when they get off the bus just south of Minneapolis, Minn., to play in the District 7 men’s basketball championship game on Saturday.
“We play similar styles of basketball,” said Raiders Head Coach Jerry Drymon in the wake of his team claiming the Region IX Tournament championship with a 98-90 triumph over Southeast Community College a week ago in Beatrice.
The Raiders will take on the Blue Knights of Dakota County Technical College in the District 7 title game at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be played in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., just south of the Twin Cities.
“We both like to push the ball and play at an up-tempo pace,” said Drymon while recalling the Raiders fell in a nail-biter to the Blue Knights in last year's District G title game at Raider Fieldhouse.
The Knights captured the district championship 68-65 on a basket just before time expired.
CCC hasn’t seen Dakota County on the court this season, but the Raiders know what to expect on Saturday.
“We’ve got four days of practice to get ready (before leaving for Minneapolis),” said Drymon, who is assisted on the bench by coaches Jack Johnson and Steve Donohoe. “We’ll learn as much about them as we can.”
A win on Saturday would even the Raiders season mark at 16-16 and propel the team to the 2017-18 NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship in Danville, Illinois, on March 20-24.
CCC’s 11-player roster is about equally divided between out-of-state recruits and homegrown talent.
The squad is led in scoring by Malik Mooving, a 5-foot 10-inch guard from New York City, New York, while 6-foot 8-inch freshman Latrell Talley of Palm Bay, Florida, anchors the middle. Mooving has averaged 19.6 points a game this season, with Talley scoring at a clip of 13 points a game and pulling down nine rebounds a contest.
Zack Rice-Gordon, a 6-foot, 6-inch guard from Richmond, Kentucky, is also a double-digit 10.7 points a game. Rice-Gordon has also been a solid defender for the Raiders this season.
Sophomore guard Garrett Sittner is a 6-foot scrappy defender on the wing from Adams Central in Hastings who averages 9 points a game. Bennett Nelson, a 6-foot 6-inch sophomore center from Osceola, accounts for 9.2 points a game.