ST. MARYS — The New Knoxville Rangers entered their game at St. Marys giving up the second most points per game among Midwest Athletic Conference teams.
New Knoxville head coach Kort Fledderjohann thinks that could be changing if Friday night’s defensive effort was any indication.
The Rangers limited one of the area’s best scorers and held a team under 50 points for the second straight game in a 58-49 win over St. Marys at Memorial High School on Friday.
New Knoxville at St. Marys Boys Basketball Pictures
“We’re giving up about 57 points per game and that’s not good enough,” Fledderjohann said. “That’s not going to win a lot of games in our league. We’ve been working on it a lot in practice.”
New Knoxville senior guard Jake Allen scored a game-high 17 points — one of three Rangers in double figures. Allen also locked down defensively on St. Marys’ leading scorer Garet Fledderjohann.
“Garet is one heck of a player,” Kort Fledderjohann said. “Jake is the best we’ve got and we thought he’d be the best option as long as we could keep him out of foul trouble.”
Fledderjohann, who entered the game scoring 19 points per contest, didn’t score until 3:20 remaining in the third quarter and went 4-of-21 from the floor. His nine points were a season-low.
New Knoxville (4-2) has won the match-up against St. Marys and head coach Dan Hegemier, the former New Knoxville coach who piloted the Rangers to the 2008 state championship, the last two seasons.
“We both wanted to do a lot better in this game,” Hegemier said about he and Garet Fledderjohann.
The Roughriders (1-5) found life in the second half and nearly came all the way back from a 14-point second-half deficit.
New Knoxville always had an answer, however.
Fledderjohann scored his first points of the game midway through the third quarter. St. Marys then went on a 15-2 run that got them to within 41-40 early in the fourth quarter.
Austin James jump-started the outburst with one of his three 3-pointers on the night. Derrick Lauth made a baseline move to the basket to end the third quarter with the Riders down 41-32. St. Marys then scored the first eight points of the third quarter on a James trey followed by five straight Fledderjohann points.
New Knoxville regained control with baskets by Ben Kuck on the block, an Isaac Kuntz short runner and an Allen basket to put New Knoxville up 49-42 with 4:30 left in the game.
St. Marys never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
“New Knoxville took advantage of us trying to pressure,” Hegemier said. “They just went north and south and our kids did not pick them up well.”
Kuntz was one of three Rangers in double figures. Along with Allen’s 17 points, sophomore point gaurd Andrew Arnett added 16 points and Kuntz had 10 points.
The Rangers shot 54 percent from the floor on 22-of-41 shooting with its small but sleek line-up of dribble drivers.
“We’re a guard-oriented team and we don’t have a big guy, so we can’t depend on pounding it inside and getting shots,” Kort Fledderjohann said. “We can’t do it the conventional way, so all we can do is spread people out and have our guards get into the paint, force some guys to help out and kick out for open perimeter shots. That kind of has to be the recipe this year.”
For most of the night, it cooked up something good. But the Rangers opened up leads throughout the game, only to watch St. Marys close out quarters strongly to get back into the game.
New Knoxville led 14-7 in the first quarter before St. Marys scored seven of the last nine points in the quarter.
New Knoxville led 29-21 at the half and upped its lead to 41-27 in the third quarter with an Arnett basket at the 2:47 mark before St. Marys’ comeback.
“We just put ourselves in such a terrible hole,” Hegemier said.
Jarrett Taylor led St. Marys with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor.
“We felt we had an advantage inside and we wanted to take advantage of that,” Hegemier said.
The paint has been a tough guard this season for the undersized Rangers.
“We need to get a lot better at guarding big guys inside,” Kort Fledderjohann said. “I think at halftime we’d given up 21 points and all but six or seven of those points were points right under the basket where they got post feeds and broke us down.”
Fledderjohann, Austin James and Isaac Fitzgerald all scored nine points each. Derrick Lauth scored six points off the bench before fouling out after guarding New Knoxville’s Arnett for much of the night.