FL basketball stomps on Bluejackets, Greyhounds
The Forest Lake boys’ basketball team left no doubt that it deserved the second seed rather than Duluth East during the Section 7AAAA semifinals on Monday night.
The Rangers defeated the Greyhounds in a 62-37 blowout at North Branch High School, avenging a 77-39 loss to Duluth East in the section semifinals last season.
Both squads looked sharp at the start, but Forest Lake pulled away and never looked back once they had an 8-7 lead off a drive to the lane from senior Noah Davis.
Following a defensive stop, senior Anthony Tyler burned two defenders by driving to the lane for a reverse lay-up to put the Rangers up 10-7.
Degendorfer and Davis provided early daggers with back-to-back field goals for an eight-point lead that wouldn’t dwindle.
To start the second half, the Rangers stole the ball three possessions in a row thanks to strong 1-3-1 zone defense pressure with numerous deflections around the perimeter and blocks under the basket by Tyler.
Duluth East wouldn’t recover, and the Rangers earned a 25-point victory. Head coach Dan Cremisino said the defensive effort was crucial in securing the win.
“We did a very nice job defending their star player, [Shaq] Coleman, and Noah did a nice job denying their post player underneath,” Cremisino said. “Everyone did their part on defense. We were getting in their lanes, getting tips, forcing lobs— when the ball moved, we moved.”
Davis led the offense with 19 points, while Degendorfer followed with 17. Senior point guard Brock Baumgartner contributed eight, sophomore Connor Knutson had seven and Tyler scored five points.
In a first-round victory over Cambridge-Isanti at home last Thursday, the Rangers came out with a bang again by taking an early 11-point lead.
Forest Lake’s defense held the Bluejackets scoreless the first three-and-a-half minutes, and never gave up the lead.
Degendorfer took charge on offense with 25 points, and added five rebounds. Knutson scored 24 points, followed by Davis with 13 points and six rebounds. Baumgartner scored seven points while Tyler contributed four points and five rebounds.
Forest Lake out - rebounded Cambridge - Isanti 35 -22 on the night.
The Rangers move on to face fourth-seeded Andover, who upset the top seed, St. Francis, in Monday evening’s other semifinal, 76-58.
Cremisino said the matchup should be a good one since both squads have grown in the second half of this season.
“We’ve been playing well since Feb. 1,” Cremisino said. “But they’ve been playing well too. They’re kind of like us, you know, they don’t have a great record, but they play tough and play good teams really tough.”
Forest Lake’s record is 12-16. They have gone 7-6 since Feb. 1, losing all games by less than three points except for an 81-70 loss to Stillwater on the road. Andover is currently 9-19. The two squads have not faced each other yet this season.
The Section 7AAAA final is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow, March 15 at North Branch High School.