NEW KNOXVILLE — New Knoxville head coach Kort Fledderjohann can’t remember seeing his team run its offense any more smoothly this season than it did for large patches of Tuesday night’s game against Marion Local.
The Rangers pulled away from Marion Local in the second half for a 46-28 Midwest Athletic Conference win in a make-up game at The Barn, as New Knoxville scored the first 10 points of the second half and held Marion Local to only eight second-half points.
Laser passes into the post for wide open lay-ups, jump shots taken in rhythm and runouts leading to lay-ups — New Knoxville (7-7, 2-3 MAC) found fool-proof ways to get points while their Flyer foes had to scrounge for every last offensive scrap.
“At times our ball movement was the best I’ve seen from us this season,” Fledderjohann said.
A well-operating offense paired with a defense that gave Marion Local no room to move led to the Rangers’ eighth straight win against Marion Local in a streak that dates back to 2005.
“Transition baskets really hurt us tonight,” Marion Local head coach Kurt Goettemoeller said. “We gave up more easy baskets tonight than we have all year. That’s very disappointing for where we’re at in the year.”
The Flyers fell to 6-7 and 1-4 in the MAC.
New Knoxville junior guard Jake Allen led the way with 18 points in another big performance in a mid-week game. That included a n assist on a backdoor cut to Ryan Lageman and then six straight points to fuel the Rangers’ 10-0 third-quarter run.
Fledderjohann may just start calling Allen Mr. Tuesday Night.
Allen scored a game-high and season-high 24 points on Tuesday, Jan. 17, in New Knoxville’s win over Wapakoneta, as well.
“We teased him that his best two games have been on Tuesday nights,” Fledderjohann said. “I think we’re going to lobbby our AD to get more Tuesday night games.”
Even worse to first-year head coach and former Minster assistant Kurt Goettemoeller, the Flyers got beat down the floor.
“For the first time this year I think we got outhustled and outworked,” Goettemoeller said.”You give New Knoxville a lot of credit. They are very well-coached and they’ve got a great big man and they have kids who know their role on that team. They’re playing really well right now.”
On a night Marion Local shadowed leading scorer Lucas Leffel (16 points per game coming into the night) with multiple defenders and allowed him to score just six points, the rest of the Ranger roster stepped up.
The Rangers’ stable of young guards did it all on Tuesday night.
Sophomore shooting guard Ryan Lageman went 6-of-6 from the floor and set the offensive tone early for New Knoxville.
Freshman point guard Andrew Arnett controlled the tempo of the game, scoring eight points and orchestrating a Ranger offense that more often than not found high percentage shots.
Matteo Ceroni got extended minutes off the bench for the Rangers, as well.
“As the year goes along that’s what you hope for out of those guys,” Fledderjohann said. “Ryan Lageman stepped up and hit some shots and he’s been gaining more and more confidence in practice and Andrew Arnett was steady and we got good minutes out of Matteo off the bench. That’s the kind of effort we need out of those guys because everyone is going to give Lucas (Leffel) that kind of attention...I thought Marion did a great job on Lucas. They had a great scheme on how to defend him, when to double him, just how to make it tough on him.”
New Knoxville’s 10-0 run to start the second half gave the Rangers a 14-point lead midway through the third. Leffel knocked down two free throws after the Rangers pounded the offensive glass early in the third quarter. Lageman got a lay-up on a cut to the basket and assist from Jake Allen — who then scored the next six points to put New Knoxville up 34-20.
“It was a situation where they got a couple of rebounds and got it to six and then they threw the zone at us and we just weren’t making anything,” Goettemoeller said. “We were getting good looks but couldn’t knock anything down.”
New Knoxville held the Flyers 17 points under their season points average. Marion Local shot 12-of-39 from the floor for 31 percent and went just 2-of-15 from beyond the three-point arc.
“We came in hoping to switch it up between the man and the zone defenses,” Fledderjohann said.
The Rangers ran clock throughout the rest of the second half with a double-digit lead and won for the third time in their last four games. The only hiccup was a loss to the state’s second-ranked Fort Recovery Indians.
New Knoxville led 15-7 after the first quarter with a 9-0 run to end the period. The Rangers shot 7-of-12 from the floor in the first quarter, including 3-of-4 shooting from Arnett.
“I don’t think we came out ready to play at all,” Goettemoeller said. “Then we came out in the second quarter and did a nice job of crawling back into the game and got it to four points at the half.”
Lageman buried a three-pointer to put New Knoxville up 22-14 before the Flyers scored six of the last eight points of the second quarter to go into the half down a manageable 24-20 at the half.
Marion Local’s football team’s run to the Division VI state championship postponed the game originally scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16.
Marion Local last beat the Rangers in February of 2005. The Rangers have won seven regular season match-ups and a tournament game over the Flyers in that span.
The game was dominated by the starters for both teams. Only six points were scored off the bench – Six points from 6-foot-7 freshman Luke Knapke on three putback baskets.
New Knoxville travels to Coldwater on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. and hosts Lima Temple Christian on Saturday night at 6:30 p.m.