The Ranger girls’ basketball team sealed the deal when closing its regular-season schedule against Stillwater and Hastings. Wins over both last week clinched Forest Lake the top seed in Section 7AAAA.
In the 57-50 win over Stillwater last Tuesday, Forest Lake came back from a six-point deficit at half.
Head coach Jen Wagner said the girls started sluggish, but picked up the pace against the struggling Suburban East Conference foe.
“They came out defending us tough, pushing us outside of our comfort zone and getting in our space,” Wagner said. “But we settled into our own pace in the second half and were playing within ourselves.”
The Ponies put up a fight, making 18 of 29 from the free throw line, but made just four field goals in the second half. Despite foul trouble—juniors Anna Eckert and Bailey Norby fouled out and sophomore Sarah Jaeb played with four—the Rangers pulled out the win with their offensive attack.
“Stillwater came at us hard, but they just don’t have the offensive weapons that we have in Hanna [Vidlund], Bailey and Anna,” Wagner said. “We just have to adjust when referees call a tight game and make sure we’re playing smarter.”
Norby led the Rangers in scoring with 24 points, followed by Eckert with 13 and Vidlund with six. Norby also tied the school free throw record by hitting 10 of 10.
Forest Lake celebrated Senior Night on Friday with a 68-40 victory over Hastings.
Wagner said they handled the Raiders well, and were able to put different rotations on the floor throughout the night.
“With it being Senior Night, we just had to make sure our emotions were in check to play,” Wagner said. “We could’ve had a little better defensive effort, but still managed to control both ends of the court with ease. It was a great game with some great rotations. The kids were excited to get the win and stay sharp for sections coming up.”
Forest Lake now has a record of 20-6.
In the seven-team tournament, Forest Lake earned a first-round bye, but will face the winner of fourth-seed Andover and fifth-seed Duluth East in the second round. The Rangers will play at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5 at North Branch High School.