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East Ridge boys basketball: Raptors blow out Park, fall to Stillwater and STMA

The East Ridge boys basketball team had an up-and-down week, falling to Suburban East Conference foe Stillwater 56-54 and non-conference opponent St. Michael-Albertville 74-71, but blowing out rival Park 75-41 in between.

To start the week, East Ridge (7-10; 4-5 SEC) traveled to Stillwater and played to a 24-23 deficit at the half. Stillwater (6-10; 4-5 SEC) then outpaced the Raptors 32-31 in the second half to escape its home gym with a victory.

"We felt we let one slip away," East Ridge head coach Paul Virgin said. "We got our turnover number down but still gave up 12 offensive rebounds to Stillwater."

East Ridge senior Justin Pahl led the way in the loss with a team-high 19 points. Senior Jared Morris and sophomore Brian Ishola each chipped in nine points apiece, while freshman point guard Sid Tomes netted eight points.

The Raptors bounced back from the loss by thumping intra-district rival Park by 34 points on Friday, Jan. 27, at East Ridge.

East Ridge led 48-24 at the half then held on, outscoring Park 27-17 in the second half.

"I liked what we did offensively and our defensive pressure was much better," Virgin said. "Giving up 15 offensive rebounds is unacceptable if we want to continue to improve though."

Pahl led all scorers with 18 points against the Wolfpack (2-15; 0-9 SEC). However, sophomore guard Jake Knupp netted 12 points and juniors Nate Roese and Conrad Sexe each added 10 points to give the Raptors four players in double figures. Sexe also had seven blocks in the game.

In the week's finale at St. Michael-Albertville (12-5), East Ridge fell behind 39-26 in the first half. The Raptors responded to outscore STMA 45-35 in the second half, but couldn't get over the hump.

Pahl led the way with a season-high 38 points. Ishola had 10 points and Sexe netted nine points and hauled down nine rebounds.

"We came out a little flat and you can't do that against a team like STMA," Virgin said. "We fought back hard in the second half and Justin was fabulous offensively, but again our Achilles heel has been giving up offensive rebounds and that is what stopped us from getting over the top on them."

East Ridge took on White Bear Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 31, after the Bulletin went to print.

Next, East Ridge plays host to rival Woodbury, which is ranked ninth in the state and is undefeated (9-0) in conference play thus far and 14-2 overall.

"We start the second half of the conference season and are looking for improvement," Virgin said. "If we can fix the rebounding problem I like our chances."