It was a tough week for Ranger basketball fans. Forest Lake fell to No. 10 Roseville, Cretin-Derham Hall and No. 6 Grand Rapids (Class AAA), and the losses included two one-point heartbreakers.
Forest Lake came out as sharpshooters against Grand Rapids on Saturday, hitting 19 three-pointers: third-most in Minnesota history.
Somehow, it wasn’t enough.
Forest Lake kept pace with the Thunderhawks and trailed by four points at halftime. Head coach Dan Cremisino said the “war of threes” came to a deciding moment when senior Anthony Tyler scored a put-back on the right block to tie the game at 73.
Following a Ranger foul of Grand Rapids’ premier player, Alex Illikainen, the sophomore made one of two free throws for the go-ahead score.
Ranger senior Noah Davis attempted to reclaim the lead with a pull-up three, but missed the mark in the final seconds. Cremisino said he has faith in his high scorer, and that play was no different.
“As long as he has the ball already, I just let him go,” the head coach said. “I’ve always felt that way. Give the ball to your best shooter and let him go.”
The Rangers came within a split second of an impressive victory on Friday night as well, seeking revenge after falling by 13 to Cretin-Derham Hall earlier this season.
After blowing a lead that had reached 13 with 6:11 to play, senior Noah Davis appeared to have sealed a Ranger victory in the final seconds. Tied at 62 with 10 seconds remaining, the forward brought the ball upcourt, spun to a stop and shot a fadeaway from just beyond the elbow. His swish put the Rangers up, but their joy was short-lived.
In the closing seconds, the Raiders inbounded the ball to a congested lane, and it bounded out to the right side into the hands of Joe Rosga. The sophomore guard got a three-pointer off just before the buzzer and it found the bottom of the net.
“We’re close and it’s right there,” Cremisino said. “We’ve lost three games at the buzzer this year. It’s just a possession here and a possession there, we’ve got to score and then get a stop. It’s disappointing, but we’re also playing well enough to stay with these good teams.”
Cretin’s 65-64 win wasted a solid effort from the hosts, who battled back after trailing by five at the half. Sophomore Connor Knutson tallied 23 points, while Davis added 17. Junior Matt Degendorfer had 11. He and Davis hit back-to-back threes to give Forest Lake its biggest lead at 56-43.
Rosga had a game-high 24 points.
Forest Lake also fell to top-ranked Roseville last Tuesday, 73-48.
The Rangers traveled to Big Lake on Tuesday and hit the road on Friday for a 7:15 p.m. game against Park. They also travel to Duluth East on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip-off.