The Ranger basketball boys have shown some inexperience when it comes to closing out halves and games this season. That problem struck again last Tuesday in a game Forest Lake could have had in the bag.
Instead, Stillwater ended on a 14-2 run and beat the visiting Rangers 71-60.
“Everybody is just having to do things they’re not used to,” said coach Dan Cremisino. “They’re learning, and they’re getting better, but it’s a difficult place to be.”
The Ponies also pulled ahead with a late run in the first half. Nick Ogren hit five three-pointers in the half against the Ranger zone and his team finished the half with a 13-2 burst to take an 11-point lead.
Junior Noah Davis hit back-to-back shots after the break and the Rangers took the lead back in short order. They held it for most of the half, until the late Stillwater run.
Davis scored a team-high 19 points, while senior guard Hunter Smith had a career-best 15.
“He’s really learned a lot about what he can do to be successful when he’s on the floor,” Cremisino said of Smith. “He’s improved a lot and really been a nice find for us.”
Anthony Tyler added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
The loss was the team’s fourth consecutive, but it bounced back with a 60-49 win in Hastings on Friday. The Raiders scored just 18 points in the second half.
Hastings won just three games last winter but returned an experienced starting lineup and came into the contest with a record of 6-7.
“In the best of times, we haven’t had easy games at Hastings just because of the style they play, which is generally a pretty disciplined, slow-down style,” Cremisino said.
This time, Forest Lake jumped out early with back-to-back Davis three-pointers. While their halftime advantage was only five points, the Rangers never trailed.
“We needed one,” Cremisino said. “It helps everyone’s confidence.”
Davis finished 4-5 from deep and had 17 points. Dusty Boyer made his first three three-point attempts and added 11.
The Rangers expected senior captain Tyler Rosenberger back in the lineup for this Tuesday’s home contest against Mounds View. He has missed nearly all of the last six games with an ankle injury.
The team was also without senior captain Jackson McDowell last week and will be for a few more games. He is suspended from the team for a school violation.
Forest Lake plays at White Bear Lake on Friday and hosts Roseville next Tuesday.