Rangers cruise past Beavers, 54-36

Neil Patrick Healy
What started as a potentially exciting game turned into a rout for the Park High boys basketball team Thursday night, with the Rangers beating the Beaverhead County Beavers, 54-36. 
Dillon and Park exchanged the lead multiple times during the early stages, with Park going ahead 16-12 at the end of the first quarter. After that, though, the Rangers got going, outscoring the Beavers 16-7 to take a 32-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Park head coach Layne Glaus credited his team’s second-quarter run to forcing the Beavers into shots they weren’t comfortable with along with playing clean on offense. 
“We were connected on the defensive end and forced (Beaverhead County) to take contested perimeter shots, and did a great job of taking care of the ball on the offensive end,” he said. 
Park’s pressure defense, one of this team’s staples, did its job and forced Beaverhead County into poor passes which lead to transition offense for Park, which was crucial in its second-quarter run.
“Our defense sets the pace for the game,” Glaus said. “When we are hungry on the defensive end, we can get out and push the ball. Once we have the ball the first-available, easiest pass accelerates the pace and makes it tough for the defense to focus their attention.”
Beaverhead County picked up some ground in the later half of the third quarter, going on a 10-2 run to put the score at 41-33 going into the fourth. The Beavers never got close again, though, thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by senior Jakim Ricketts and sophomore Brendon Johnson. It was the spark the Rangers needed to put the game away, going on a 13-3 run in the fourth quarter. 
The closing minutes of the game saw an array of flashy plays from the Rangers. After the back-to-back 3s and the Beavers called a timeout to stem the bleeding, Ricketts hit his third 3-pointer of the game in the left corner to extend the lead to 17. After that, senior Rydell Floyd set up Johnson for an easy lay-in with the behind-the-back pass in transition. Floyd dropped another assist, this time setting up sophomore Danner Purkett for an easy score. 
Despite having a size advantage with 6-foot-9 senior Clay Allison, the Beavers weren’t able to exploit the Rangers’ lack of size. The Rangers did a good job of containing Allison, who only scored six points and wasn’t a factor for much of the game. 
“Our box-outs and defensive rotations kept him in check,” Glaus said. “He is a guy that gets the majority of his points off either offensive rebounds or their guards find him on dribble attacks.” 
Johnson led the game in scoring with 17, including hitting three 3s, as the sophomore’s role continues to grow on both sides of the ball.
“He hit some big shots for us,” Glaus said. “We were pleased with his effort on the defensive end. He has been growing for us every day defensively. With his length and athleticism, we expect him to develop into an elite defender.”
Ricketts added 14, nine of which came off 3-pointers made in the second half. Parkett, who is not usually looked to as a high scorer, had a 10-point performance. 
“Danner does a great job to be in the right place at the right time and is a relentless worker on both ends,” Glaus said. “He did a great job setting solid screens, which opened him up for a few scores.”
Park has a 12-day break before traveling to rival Belgrade on Jan. 5. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.