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Taking control

Lacking an inside presence, the Ranger basketball team will rely on strong guard play from Ryan Vauthier and Garrett Bergquist

As head coach Kevin Kirchhofer looked down the roster for this season's Ranger basketball team, one thing was quickly apparent: there isn't a whole lot of size. Fortunately for Kirchhofer, if guards Garrett Bergquist and Ryan Vauthier continue their strong play, it may not matter.

Bergquist, 18, is one of a handful of seniors on this year's team and stands at a respectable 6-foot-1, while Vauthier, a 16-year old junior, stands at 5-foot-11.

Unfortunately for both of them, they were part of a team that experienced numerous heartbreaks in a difficult season last year. Throughout the season, the Rangers were 0-4 in games decided by four points or less.

'It was tough to lose so many close games,' Bergquist said. 'But I think it did teach us that we were good enough and that we just need to finish our games and play smarter. It will help us grow up this year.'

Part of growing up for the team has been a lot of team bonding that has the Rangers playing well early in the preseason.

'We look really good so far,' Vauthier said. 'Playoffs are the ultimate goal though.'

A lot of the responsibility for making tje playoffs will fall onto the shoulders of the two guards, who are running the show this season.

Bergquist describes himself as a scoring guard, but with someone as talented as Vauthier on the floor, he isn't afraid to pass. In fact, Bergquist said he actually enjoys playing defense more than anything else - especially the art of taking charges.

Vauthier, on the other hand, is more of a slasher on offense, using his ability to penetrate to the basket as a way to open up jumpers for teammates.

'We're mostly a drive and kick team,' Bergquist said. 'We shoot mostly layups or 3s.'

Entering this season, however, the team will need to play flawless basketball given the talent that remains in the league.

Among the formidable opponents on the schedule this season are La Salle, Molalla and Madras, all of whom return players from solid teams last year.

None of that seems to phase the Rangers.

'I think we've matured and grown closer as a team,' Vauthier said. 'Whereas last year we played as individuals, this year we are sitting down as a team and talking about our goals.'

Part of growing closer as a team has been the relationship between Bergquist and Vauthier, which has developed into a strong friendship despite the difference in age. Along with that friendship has come a chemistry that has other teams struggling to defend them.

'We can both do it all,' Bergquist said. 'We can both drive and shoot, which helps both of us get to the basket.

'We just feed off of each other because he's a good passer, shooter and dribbler so when he gets to the bucket, he can give it to me to drive,' he said.

For Bergquist, the future after high school is still unclear, but a place like Mt. Hood Community College remains a potential destination.

Vauthier, on the other hand, has another year left after this one, but that isn't going to keep him from giving his best friend the best senior year possible.

'This is his year and I want him to do well,' Vauthier said.