The Rangers build a nine-point margin in the first half before falling 52-30 to North Marion

by: ESTACADA NEWS: PARKER LEE - Estacada guard Willie Blankenship drives past a defender during last weeks home loss to North Marion. The Estacada boys’ basketball team was feeling pretty good about itself when Willie Blankenship and Chris Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Rangers a nine-point lead mid-way through the second quarter against North Marion last week. They would have given just about anything to have the game end right then, because for all the wrong reasons, the game did end for them after that.

Estacada scored just six points in the final 20 minutes of the game as it got stomped by the Huskies, 52-30.

“We stopped playing as hard as we had been,” Estacada coach Kevin Kirchhofer said. “We stopped playing with confidence.”

When Blankenship and Smith hit from deep in the second period, the Rangers were fired up and looked primed to blow the game open. North Marion adjusted its defense by employing a zone set, and the game turned instantly as Estacada failed to score in the final 3:30 of the first half. For the Rangers, it only got worse.

Coming out of halftime, the Rangers could not buy a bucket. Everything they threw up at the hoop seemed to rim in and out, that is when they were able to actually get a shot off. The Huskies forced Estacada into nine turnovers in the first 5:30 of the third quarter and the Rangers did not make a shot from the field in the entire period. Their only points came on a pair of free throws from Kris Kelly. North Marion outscored the Rangers 22-2 in the third quarter to turn a two-point halftime deficit into an 18-point lead.

“We stopped being aggressive offensively,” Kirchhofer said. “We let them disrupt us and one turnover turned into two, then two turnovers turned into four. We tried everything we could to break that cycle and nothing worked. We actually got some good looks there, but couldn’t get anything to go in.”

Estacada’s offense improved in the fourth quarter, but just barely. Kelly, who led the team with eight points, made a layup two minutes into the period to give the Rangers their first field goal in more than 13 minutes of game time. North Marion responded by producing eight unanswered points to extend its scoring run to 37-4. Estacada’s Doug Kirchhofer guided in a shot from the paint in the final minute of the contest to prevent the Rangers from putting up another two-point quarter. As it was, Estacada was outscored 37-6 in the final 20 minutes after jumping out to a 24-15 lead 12 minutes in.

View an online photo gallery from the game at

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