Offense shines as Rangers notch first wins of the season

By 
Ryan Peerboom — Enterprise Staff Writer
Monday, December 9, 2019
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Photos courtesy of Michael Kokot

Rylee Watt (2) dribbles between two Broadwater defenders on Friday in Townsend.

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Kodie Vondra fights through traffic to lay the ball up.

The Park High basketball teams both picked up their first wins of the season Friday on the road against Broadwater High School in Townsend. The offenses were clicking, with both teams totaling 69 points in the wins.

Girls

The Ranger girls took the floor first and rode a strong start to a 69-35 win over the Bulldogs.

The Rangers began the game on a 16-0 run, but Broadwater was able to climb back to make it a game in the second quarter. The Rangers were still able to take a lead into the locker room at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Rangers ran a full-court press and took control of the game for the rest of the way.

Park head coach Megan Burns said the Rangers halftime adjustments were key in sparking the second half run.

“At half time we talked about our standards and goals we set for ourselves this season,” Burns said. “And the kids came out after halftime with a new fire.”

Burns said Shania Johnson’s work on the defensive end was a driving force for the Rangers.

“Shania Johnson really stepped up and played her heart out,” she said. “She was a huge part of our full court press and had multiple steals in that second half.”

Park’s offense ran through junior guard Kodie Vondra. Burns said her court vision was on display in the win.

“Kodie Vondra is always a solid player and knows how to read the floor,” she said. “She had some fantastic assists and really helped drive our team on the offensive end.”

Burns also mentioned how well the Rangers played on the offensive end of the floor, noting that Johnson, Vondra and Abby Kokot were all in double digits in the scoring column.

The Rangers faced adversity in the second quarter after letting the Bulldogs back in the game. Burns said it was nice to see how her team answered their first real test.

“Our response to the adversity of letting a team come back into the game really pleased me,” she said. “That is not something you can replicate exactly in practice, so it was nice to see that heart and grit.”

The opportunity to open the season against a non-conference opponent gave Burns an opportunity to focus more on her team instead of the opponent, the coach said.

“I think opening against a nonconference team allows me to be a bit more focused on my team to begin with,” she said. “At the beginning of the season there is so much (work) to put in before the first game, it is impossible to get it all.”

The Rangers have a weeklong break before they lace them up again at 4 p.m. on Saturday against Fergus at Park High. Burns said there are plenty of things for the Rangers to work on in the meantime.

“We need to keep grinding each week at practice,” she said. “We need to continue to hold ourselves to high standards and expectations. While we won, it was far from a perfect game. We have a lot of little things to clean up this week.”

Boys

The Ranger boys took the court after the girls and found similar success as they beat the Bulldogs 69-51.

Park head coach Layne Glaus said the Rangers’ defensive intensity early in the game translated to success on the other side of the court.

“The first few minutes of the game we had a high level of intensity on defense,” Glaus said. “I think this led into aggressive mindset on the offensive end.”

On offense, Glaus said he was satisfied with the Rangers’ ball movement.

“The guys had a 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio, which I was very pleased with,” he said. “It takes trust to share the ball and discipline to make the simple play. Our guys did well in both areas.”

The Rangers depth was another positive takeaway from the first game, Glaus said.

“The game atmosphere can be hard to simulate in practice,” he said. “It was nice to see that we have such a deep bench. Everyone we put in off the bench competed at a high level and looked ready for the varsity level.”

Glaus added that he liked the effort from Tristan Stenseth, Eli Lanclos and Rylee Watt.

“Tristan, Eli, and Rylee played well on both ends of the floor,” he said. “They shot the ball with confidence and gave consistent effort on the defensive end.”

That effort on the defensive end is something the Rangers need to improve moving forward, Glaus said.

“If we are to continue winning, there will need to be a drastic change in our team defensive effort, especially from our captains,” he said.

Despite the win, the Bulldogs outhustled the Rangers in multiple aspects on Friday, Glaus added.

“Credit to Townsend, they outworked us,” he said. “They beat us to loose balls, offensive rebounds and in transition. This will be the first thing we address this week in practice.”

In addition to effort on the defensive end, Glaus said humility is important when addressing their weaknesses in practice.

“To improve we each need to be open to change when it’s necessary,” he said. “If we recognize we were outworked and give full effort to change that, it won’t happen again.”

Once again, the Rangers play after the girls against Fergus at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Park High School.

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