The Rangers surrender only a free throw in the first quarter on their way to a 47-42 win
The preseason had been up and down for the Estacada boys basketball team as it faced a wide range of teams from multiple classifications. The Rangers had Fridays matchup against Taft pegged as a measuring-stick game to give them a true sense of where they stand. If the result is indeed indicative of what the rest of the season holds, Estacada has a lot to be excited about.
The Rangers outlasted Taft 47-42, aided greatly by one of their top defensive performances to date.
Estacadas effort on defense to open the contest set the tone for the whole night. The Rangers were aggressive and they swarmed to the ball where ever it went. Taft was never open and labored just to find shots that wouldnt get blocked, a venture that was usually unsuccessful. Estacada blocked a half-dozen shots in the first half, and Kris Kelly had four of them.
The Rangers shut out Taft for the first 6:30, and allowed just one point in the first quarter. The Tigers did not make a shot from the field until the second period. With 3:15 remaining in the first half, Taft still only had three points on the scoreboard.
Taft almost equaled Estacada in its defensive intensity. The Rangers had to earn every point they scored and couldnt pull away, despite the defensive clinic they were putting on.
The difference in the game came on the hustle plays. Estacada scrounged up the bulk of loose balls and it bested the Tigers on the offensive glass. The offensive rebounds the Rangers wrangled up, largely by Kelly, turned into second-chance points. Behind eight first-half points from Kelly, Estacada led by six points at halftime.
Taft adjusted its offensive approach in the second half and found some semblance of comfort shooting the basketball. The Tigers came up with more offensive production in the third quarter than they did in the entire first half.
Tafts improved offense wore off on Estacada and the Rangers got better right along with the Tigers. Taft worked tirelessly in the second half to pull even, but it came down to the hustle plays, just as it did in the first half. The rebounds and loose balls that could have gone to either side always seemed to go the Rangers way. When the Tigers did get second chances with offensive rebounds, they didnt turn them into points often enough.
Taft vied to make a late push, mostly fouling by Estacada to lengthen the game, but the Rangers held steady and could not be overtaken.