Boys basketball: Raptors pull away in second half, beat Park by 30The East Ridge boys basketball team dismantled cross-town rival Park 64-34 on Tuesday, Jan. 4, in a Suburban East Conference contest at East Ridge High School to improve its record to 3-0 over the intra-district rival Wolfpack in the Raptors’ season-and-a-half of existence.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
The East Ridge boys basketball team dismantled cross-town rival Park 64-34 on Tuesday, Jan. 4, in a Suburban East Conference contest at East Ridge High School to improve its record to 3-0 over the intra-district rival Wolfpack in the Raptors’ season-and-a-half of existence.
“It’s a big game and it always will be,” East Ridge head coach Paul Virgin said. “The Park, East Ridge, Woodbury friendly rivalry isn’t going away and is a good thing. It’s like playing your brother or sister — you just always want to do well. I always say I want Park to win every game but two and Woodbury to win every game but two.”
In the game, Park (1-9; 0-2 SEC) hung close early, but East Ridge (7-2; 1-1 SEC) was able to pull out to a slim 28-21 lead at the half. However, in the second half, the Raptors stiffened their defense and started to sink their shots, outscoring the Wolfpack 36-13 after the break to pull away from Park.
“We came out a little scared and a little tentative,” said Virgin, who was a longtime teacher and coach at Park. “We missed a lot of shots, but I was happy with the shots we took. Overall, I was ecstatic about our defensive pressure.”
East Ridge junior forward Justin Pahl led the way for the Raptors in the win with a game-high 24 points. Pahl, a transfer student from Mahtomedi, leads the team in scoring on the year with a 15.4 points per game average. In addition, Raptors’ big men Brian Rieck and Dillon Johnson chipped in eight points and seven points, respectively.
For Park, senior guard Ben Mair led the way in the win with 11 points. Mair, a foreign exchange student from Australia, leads the Wolfpack in scoring for the season with a 10.8 points per game average. Also, senior forward August Omot netted six points for Park in the loss.
Virgin said he was happy with his team’s performance and effort.
“I don’t think our kids took any time off during the game,” Virgin said. “I give a lot of credit to Park. I knew (Park head coach) J Schwartz as a player. He’s always played 100 percent, he coaches 100 percent and his kids give 100 percent. That’s a credit to him and their program.”
Next, Park plays host to White Bear Lake (4-2; 1-1 SEC) at Park High School, while East Ridge welcomes Roseville (5-2; 2-0 SEC) to “The Perch” on Friday, Jan. 7.