ORLEANS- The Lake Region Ranger boys have been in many close games this season. That experience paid off Friday night as LRU closed out visiting BFA, snapping an eight game losing streak.
Lake Region dominated the offensive glass in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. Junior forward Drew Gallup scored on three offensive put backs to keep the Bullets at bay.
The Rangers, who had played seven of their first nine contest away from Don Harter gymnasium, got on the board first. Sophomore wing Alex Beauregard hit a 20 footer for a three pointer on LRU's second possession. Keno Jackson tried to counter for BFA, but senior Seth Lawson blocked the attempted field goal. Lawson cleared the defensive boards early as he snared three in the first period alone.
Ranger head coach James Ingalls has played his entire bench during Lake Region's 1-8 start. That substitution pattern continued and paid immediate dividends as burley senior Caleb Royer muscled his way in for a field goal.
Drew Gallup knocked down a baseline jumper and the Rangers had broken on top 7-4. Lawson fed 6'4” teammate James Margolis on an easy bucket inside. BFA responded and after one period completed it was 9-9.
The second period opened with Derik Messier hitting Lawson on the low blocks. Lawson turned and kissed the ball off glass for the field goal. Bench players continued to find the score book as 6'4” Marquel Webster scored from six feet out. Freshman Dakota McAllister stole the ball mid-court and hit Beauregard for the breakaway lay-up.
Smooth running Tony Stewart put in a Beauregard miss late in the first half, and as the intermission horn sounded, the contest was deadlocked at 19. Lawson got the Rangers rolling in the third quarter as he stole a pass at mid-court and beat two defenders to the rack for the field goal. Coach Ingalls had the Rangers employ a zone press which rattled the visitors.
BFA's Jared Demar responded with inside power, restoring the Bullet's lead. Lawson's hard work on the boards for Lake Region gave the home team extra chances from the charity stripe and LRU cashed in. McAllister stepped back and connected on a three ball to keep the contest close. Margolis ripped down an offensive board and with the put back, it stood 31-26. BFA scored the final two buckets of the quarter and Lake Region maintained a one point margin at 31-30.
McAllister scored on a drive in traffic off glass. The next time down, a McAllister air ball was ripped down by Messier and the 6'3” senior powered the ball in for two.
The Rangers got up 36-33 and had chances to expand the lead. Lake Region has shot just over 42 percent for the season from the charity stripe and that continued to haunt LR. Beauregard and McAllister both misfired from the foul line helping to keep BFA in it.
With 3:40 to go in the ball game, Beauregard found Gallup inside. Gallup gathered himself and powered up for the big two points making it 38-33 Lake Region. Gallup scored again on an offensive rebound making it 40-34. At the 1:29 mark it was Gallup again who grabbed a Ranger miss of the offensive glass and got the put back for a 42-36 advantage.
BFA wasn't quite finished as they closed within 42-40 with 27 seconds left. Caleb Royer iced the contest with three free throws in the last 19 seconds making the final 46-42.
Gallup said afterward, “We held our composure and got offensive boards late. The home crowd really helped us out. We have to keep working hard and close out games which has really been killing us.”
Senior center Derik Messier said, “We didn't let the pressure get to us tonight. We hit the open man at the right time. We hope to get things rolling now that we are going to be home for a while.”
Head coach James Ingalls said afterward, “Down the stretch this year we haven't shot the ball well from the foul line, that has been our undoing. We have had a lot of experience with tight games down the stretch so hopefully that will work to our advantage during the second half of the season. We kind of forgot what this gym looked like we have been on the road so much. I told Drew that the way that they were guarding us, that he had to help this team some other way. He really banged the glass and nobody could jump with him. Between him and Seth, they controlled the boards down that stretch."
Lake Region moves to 2-8 on the season while BFA moves to 4 -5. The Rangers had great balance offensively as they got eight from Gallup, seven from Lawson, and Messier. Messier led the Rangers off the boards with nine caroms while Lawson had seven of his own. The Ranger's continue their home stand hosting Richford Wednesday night and Danville Friday night at the Don Harter Memorial Gymnasium