The Reading Rangers Boys Varsity Basketball team beat Bronson this past Thursday night 64-54 to open up the District Playoffs. The Rangers played strong throughout the entire night and held the lead for nearly the entire game. It was a strong showing as the team who were playing without three key contributors.
The Rangers were led by Dilon Denison with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Ricardo Cabrera turned in the best effort of his career with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Eli Irelan (12 points, 6 assists) and Porter Mauk (11 points) hit six of the Rangers eight three-point shots on the night. Brogan Wiler scored 6 points and controlled the paint defensively with 13 rebounds. Jake Elder would also step up on the boards and finish with 9 rebounds and help with the Bronson press dishing out 4 assists. The Rangers also got some much needed help from JV call-ups Jacob Hamilton and Maverick Messenger.
The win gave the Rangers the opportunity to play for the District Championship against the tournament host, Centreville. After getting down early in the contest the Rangers battled back to take a 15-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. A late run by the Bulldogs would put the Rangers at a 32-24 disadvantage at the break.
The Rangers made a run in the 3rd quarter, however Centreville made a run of their own to take a 56-39 lead going into the final period of play. With the season on the line the Rangers battle back to cut the lead to 7 points with under two minutes to play. The Rangers had a few chances to make it ever more interesting, but could not get over the hump and fell by a final score of 65-56.
The team was led by Dilon Denison with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Ricardo Cabrera finished with 11 points and Gabe Rife with 10 points. Brogan Wiler added 7 points, while Porter Mauk finished with 8 points and 4 steals.
“We’d like to thank our seniors, they’ve been a big part of our program for the last four years” said Coach Kerspilo “They have won a Big 8 title (last season) and made it to a district championship game.”
The seniors include Dilon Denison, Porter Mauk, Brogan Wiler, Jake Elder, Ricardo Cabrera, Gabe Rife, Jaiden Rockins, Roger Hill, and Brandon Semmler.
“They have been fun to be around and they are a tight-knit group, they fight and argue, really like brothers, at the end of the day they’re great teammates who love to compete and have a passion to play the game of basketball and that’s why we were able to have a successful season.”
“We said we wanted to enjoy every moment we had because we didn’t know if we would have a season.” said Coach Kerspilo “We hit a buzzer beater, had the first dunk from a Ranger in 20 years, we came back from being down 17 points to take the lead and win with 10 seconds left, that win got us back in the hunt for a for a Big 8 title, we also won a district game without three guys in the top of our rotation, including our second and third leading scorers.”
“We have a lot to build on in the future and will look to make an even bigger run come tournament time. We said we wanted to try to overcome as much of the adversity that the world has thrown at us this past year and persevere through whatever troubles the season might bring us. We stepped up and fought through as much as we could and played for a district championship.” “We’ve made a lot of great memories and have a lot to be grateful for and that’s all you can really ask for at the end of any season…especially one like this year.” said Coach Kerspilo.
The Rangers end the season with an 11-5 record and 2nd place in the Big 8 conference.