Undermanned Rangers hold off Herders

By 
Ryan Peerboom — Enterprise Staff Writer
Monday, January 20, 2020
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Enterprise photo by Ryan Peerboom

Park’s Jack Gauthier (3) attempts to take a charge while defending Sweet Grass County’s Austin Nevin (32). Park’s Nick Battrick, right, leaps to attempt a block while Sage McMinn (10) looks on. 

The short-handed Park Rangers held off the Sweet Grass County Herders in a local matchup on Saturday night. 

In a true team effort — every Ranger found the scoring column — the Rangers beat the Herders 65-54.

The Rangers wasted no time getting started. Jack Gauthier got things going for the Rangers as he fought through a foul to make a layup and, after making the free throw, put Park up three early. 

The play from Gauthier was the beginning of a 12-0 run by the Rangers to start the game. Sage McMinn capped the run with a steal and breakaway score out of a Herders timeout. 

The Herders finally made it onto the scoreboard with a 3-pointer from Dawson Laverell, but the Rangers continued to build their lead throughout the first quarter, finishing with a 22-9 lead. 

After the Rangers built on their lead to start the second, the Herders finally put things together. Sweet Grass County scored 11 straight points to cut the Ranger lead down to six. The teams traded blows in the waning minutes of the first half, with the Rangers finishing the quarter out with a 35-27 lead. 

The Rangers extended their lead to 14, 48-34, in the third quarter before the Herders rattled off eight straight to cut the lead back down to six. A 3-pointer from David Durgan late in the quarter gave the Rangers a 51-44 lead entering the fourth. 

The Herders tried slowly chipping away at Park’s lead in the fourth, but the Rangers’ defense held the Herders to just 10 points in the quarter to secure a 65-54 win. 

The Rangers were without MHSA Class A leading scorer Brendon Johnson, who sat out with an injury. Johnson’s absence required multiple Rangers to step up on the offensive end of the floor.

Senior’s Nick Battrick and McMinn helped fill the void by both scoring in double digits. Battrick scored 11 and McMinn added 10. The Ranger offense was well balanced, as Casey Miller scored 11 points, Durgan added eight, and Gauthier and Wyatt Saile each scored seven. 

Park head coach Layne Glaus said he like the way his team played with confidence.

“(We) played well,” Glaus said. “A lot of guys played with confidence on the offensive end so that was big for us. Guys (were) looking for their shots and we’ve got a lot of guys that are capable.”

Johnson averages more than 25 points-per game, a significant amount of offense to replace. Glaus said he didn’t have to make any adjustments because of the trust he has in his players. 

“We didn’t change anything,” he said. “I have trust in the guys that we put out there and I think, without (Johnson) that just forced them to step up.”

McMinn said defense was the driving force without Johnson.

“Offense was tough without that big number twenty four (Johnson) in there,” he said. “Just getting defensive stops is what we need to do to win games without him and (it was) just a team effort all around.”

Battrick said the entire team played better as a unit.

“I feel like the whole team just came together better,” he said. “Each of us were just taking confidence in ourselves and just trying to get to the basket and get easy buckets.”

Park’s defense down the stretch helped them finish off the Herders. Glaus said they started to focus on the Herder shooters who had the hot hand. 

“I think they started to focus in on the guys who were hot, the guys that were shooting the ball really well,” Glaus said. “Through the third and the start of the fourth we were letting them get some looks, but I think they played more disciplined defense down the stretch.”

The win was the Rangers second of the weekend as they took care of business against Manhattan on Friday, winning 61-54.

 

Up next

The Rangers play Billings Central at 6 p.m. on Thursday night at home. 

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