The Ranger boys earned their first win with an exclamation point last Tuesday in a 61-39 triumph over Cambridge Isanti, before traveling to Centennial and falling 64-57 on Saturday.
Head coach Dan Cremisino said his boys grabbed an early lead in the win over the Bluejackets and maintained an unforgiving 1-3-1 defense to shut down the opposing offense.
“They had a tough time scoring and a tough time with our 1-3-1,” Cremisino said. “It was a nice win for us. It was a gradual lead, then we kind of cruised along and had a chance to play a lot of guys off the bench.”
The Rangers showing a variety across the scoresheet. Senior Noah Davis led the way with 13 points, followed by sophomore Connor Knutson with eight, senior Brock Baumgartner with seven and more than 10 others contributing.
On Saturday, Forest Lake faced Centennial in a slow-starting, low-scoring first half, which ended on an offensive run by the Cougars. The Rangers were within five at 27-32 with four minutes remaining in the half. But the Cougar defense got the stops they needed and took off on offense for a comfortable 10-point lead at the break.
Forest Lake came out battling in the second and snuck within four points at the two-minute mark, but forced fouls would put the Cougars on the line until the final whistle.
Junior Matt Degendorfer led the offense for the Rangers with 20 points, while Davis contributed 18. Cremisino also mentioned the valuable minutes off the bench by sophomores Toby Boyer and Knutson and seniors Andrew Wright and Taylor Gullickson.
Though it was the first win of the season for Centennial, the Cougars kept up with No. 3-ranked Hopkins (Class AAAA), losing just 73-62, and lost by just four points to a tough Blaine team.
“They [Centennial] came in as one of the more well-respected teams,” Cremisino said. “They play defense well and just have a nice team of players. We did a nice job all night of keeping it within one or two possessions, but just need to take a little more control.”
The Rangers, now 1-2, faced St. Francis on Tuesday night on the road and next travel to Irondale for a non-conference matchup at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15.