The Rangers boys basketball team defeated Irondale in a high-scoring, up-tempo season opener at home last Friday night, winning 90-72.
Forest Lake engaged in a head-to-head battle through much of the first half, with seniors Matt Degendorfer and Pat Murphy and juniors Connor Knutson and Toby Boyer keeping their squad in the game with aggressive full-court pressure.
With the score tied at 35 and just minutes to go before the half, Degendorfer sparked a Rangers streak with a steal and lay up, followed by a spin move and short jumper in the lane by Knutson. Senior Brent Kinder fought for an offensive rebound and put back, followed by back-to-back threes by Knutson and Alm to help extend Forest Lake’s lead to nine by halftime.
The Rangers wouldn’t look back, as they put up 51 points in the second half for a 90-point effort, their highest scoring game in four years.
Forest Lake shot 94 times, the most in school history, but shot just 31 percent overall and made 14-21 free throws. The Rangers also fouled out two players.
Knutson led the offense with 31 points on the night. On defense, Forest Lake as a team tallied 16 steals.
Head coach Dan Cremisino said it was a good start to the season.
“Connor Knutson played really well, Brent Kinder played very well, and Toby Boyer I thought ran the point well for us, and then everyone else chipped in here and there,” Cremisino said. “We could play better, and we’re going to have to because we’re going to face better competition coming up here soon.”
The Suburban East Conference is host to two of the state’s top five teams of last season: Woodbury and Roseville.
“We’re going to be an underdog in a lot of games this year. Not because we’re not a good team – we are – but because we’re playing such great talent,” Cremisino said. “I think, with that, you have to take some risks, you’ve got to even the playing field a bit, and we have that opportunity here. We shoot well, we’re fast. We’re not of great strength, so we need to get those shots in transition.”
Last season, Forest Lake beat Irondale 65-61 in double overtime.
The Rangers traveled to Blaine on Tuesday for a section matchup and hit the road again for a 7:15 p.m. game against Cambridge-Isanti on Thursday, Dec. 5.