Park ends three-game skid, beats Big Timber, 54-45

Neil Patrick Healy
After being bogged down by slow starts the last two games, the Park High Rangers came out strong Tuesday versus the Big Timber Sheepherders, taking a 17-5 lead after the first quarter. The fast start propelled them to a 54-45 win, ending a three-game losing streak. 
Park jumped to a 7-0 lead with less than three minutes in the first quarter and held Big Timber scoreless until the 2:48 mark and closed out the quarter on a 10-2 run, ending with a 17-5 lead. Park head coach Scott Coleman attributed his team’s improved performance in the early stage of the game to his defense.
“We all committed to an oppressive defensive start,” he said. “We are very capable of superb man-to-man defense … We limited those runs last night, but not enough. We need to get to the point as a team that we can sustain the defensive effort we put up (against Big Timber) to a full game.”
Big Timber charged back in the second quarter with a 10-4 run to cut the lead to six, but Park made adjustments on the fly and shored up holes in the defense that Big Timber was exposing, taking a 31-17 lead into halftime.
“(Big Timber) effectively exploited our mental and physical relaxation on defense,” Coleman said. “We are growing because these lapses are shorter and we are learning to reset as a team on the court. Our two seniors, Larissa Sarrel and Katherine Kant, brought tremendous, calm, poised leadership in shutting down these lapses.”
Park never trailed for the remainder of the game in part to the performance of freshman guard Kodia Vondra, who scored 10 of her 18 points in the second half. Vondra, who has emerged as one of the team’s primary scoring threats, is looked to for setting the tone on offense. 
“Kodie has tremendous speed and offensive skill, all to her credit for hard work in the offseason,” Coleman said. “We need her to beat teams down the court to penetrate and score, and we’re dependent on her excellent free throw shooting.”
Tuesday’s win put an end to the Rangers’ three-game losing streak, improving them to 3-6 on the year. Saturday pits Park against Fergus, which Coleman is calling his team’s most important conference game. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.