Rangers advanced to play Duluth East this Tuesday
Forest Lake made sure an upset was not in the cards for the opening round of the boys’ basketball playoffs last week. The host Rangers started fast and controlled throughout in a 57-46 win over St. Francis.
The win earned a trip to Duluth this Tuesday for the Section 7AAAA semifinal against No. 8 Duluth East, the section’s top seed. (See www.forestlaketimes.com for an update.)
Fourth-seeded Forest Lake jumped out 11-2 in last Thursday’s quarterfinal. Four Rangers scored during the spurt, which Dusty Boyer closed with a three-pointer nearly seven minutes in.
The St. Francis offense never got on track in the first half. The fifth-seed’s top scorer, senior guard Andy Julkowski, hit a layup with two seconds left in the first half to pull the Fighting Saints within 14 at 27-13.
“We did a really good job defensively, frustrating them, making them hold the ball, creating longer possessions,” said coach Dan Cremisino, pointing out the Rangers forced 23 turnovers. “We were staying in the lanes and it was tough for them to get a good shot.”
The second-half script followed that of Forest Lake’s 61-50 win over St. Francis in December: the Rangers safely protected their lead but never broke too far away.
Sophomore forward Jake Johnson had a big half for the visitors. He scored back-to-back buckets to close a 10-1 run and pull his team within eight at the nine-minute mark. A Julkowski three-pointer three minutes later cut the lead to seven, but Boyer and sophomore Matt Degendorfer responded with treys of their own to bring the lead back to double digits.
Junior Noah Davis, who leads Forest Lake in scoring, missed his fifth straight game to injury. Boyer continued to pick up the scoring slack with 19 points.
“Dusty’s doing such a good job for us,” Cremisino said. “Everyone else is doing their part, too.”
Rosenberger scored 17 and had three of Forest Lake’s eight three-pointers.
Duluth East presented a tall task on Tuesday. The Greyhounds, who are heavily favored to defend their section title, beat the Rangers 77-52 in Forest Lake last month. Cremisino hoped to have Davis back in the lineup and use a delayed offense to limit East’s possessions.
Thursday, March 8
St. Francis 13 33 – 46
Forest Lake 27 30 – 57
Fighting Saints: Johnson-18, Julkowski-12, Marquette-11, Carlson-5. Rangers: Boyer-19, Rosenberger-17, Tyler-6, Degendorfer-5, LaPlante-4, McDowell-3, Smith-3.
Section 7AAAA Tournament
Thursday, March 8
(4) Forest Lake 57, (5) St. Francis 46
(2) Blaine 73, (7) Cambridge-Isanti 44
(3) Anoka 74, (6) Andover 68
Tuesday, March 13
(1) Duluth East vs Forest Lake, 7
Blaine vs Anoka, 7
Friday, March 16 – at Elk River
Championship game, 7