The Rangers were running at Hart Ranch Saturday night, as the Hill City boys' and girls' basketball teams swept Rapid City Christian.

Both teams jumped out to early leads and never looked back, with the girls winning 64-31 and the boys winning 61-32.

Ranger boys impressive in surprising win

Hill City boys' coach Blake Gardner was quick to say that the Rangers dismantling of the Comets, the No. 1 team in Region 8A, was not some kind of a statement that Hill City could be a team to be contended with come tournament time.

"I think our region is very evenly balanced, and I just think on any given night any team can win, so I don't think this is a statement win at all," he said.

Whether or not it was a statement, it was an impressive win as the Rangers scored the game's first 21 points and nearly held Christian scoreless in the first quarter.

The athleticism of Hill City showed, as the Rangers were in passing lanes and able to create a lot of transition offense early.

"Rapid City Christian is a very good team, so we stressed all week '32 minutes of basketball,' and we had to come out with some energy from the opening tip," Gardner said. "I thought the difference was the way we rebounded. We made some tough shots, but I thought the difference was how we crashed the boards."

Christian was never in the game. Hill City led 21-3 at the end of the first quarter and 41-16 at halftime.

"Hill City, a lot of credit has to go to them," Christian coach Kyle Courtney said. "Coach Gardner and his team, you could tell they came out with some fire, and they're a group of veteran players. I thought they were on top of their game tonight. They shot the ball well, they played well defensively and were very aggressive tonight."

Courtney said that he thought the Comets, despite their 11-1 record coming into the contest, looked like a young and intimidated team.

"They jumped on us right away and we struggled to be aggressive," he said. "We really were timid, didn't run a lot of our stuff and it played right into their hands."

A early basket from Zane Schlabach were the only points Christian would score in the third. Hill City dominated the period, 10-2 and led 51-18 at the end of the quarter. 

With a running clock since midway through the third quarter the Comets outscored the Rangers 14-10 in the fourth.

"There's a lot of basketball left to be played, but we have to learn from this like anything else," Courtney said. "We really got our tails kicked. We have a choice, like anything in life, how do you respond to adversity? You can either sulk about it or you can say 'we have a lot of things to improve on.' I hope our response will be to go back to work."

Hill City's scoring was balanced, with Chance Simmons leading the team with 17 points. Taylor Edwards right behind him with 16. Jac Cutler had 13. Christian was led in scoring by Jack Roisum who had seven.

Christian, 11-2, travels to Belle Fourche Tuesday while Hill City, 11-6, hosts Douglas Thursday.

Never in doubt

The Hill City girls' team knew coming in that its trademark full-court press might give the young Christian team some problems.

It was right.

Just like the boys' team, the girls jumped out to an early lead and never let its foot off the gas, leading 14-2 at the end of the first quarter.

"I think we did what we were supposed to do, but we had lapses at times," Ranger coach Wade Ginsbach said. "We want to pressure the ball and we don't want the ball to get past us, and sometimes it's easy to be complacent when we do that, but for the most part, I thought we did really well."

Christian coach Paul Anderson said the Comets had a hard time handling the pressure. He said his team wasn't ready to play.

"We had no energy, no enthusiasm, there was no excitement," he said. "People just have to step up, and they're still young and they need to learn that. Hopefully this is a night they remember that we came back out in the second half with an improved attitude and got after it with energy and enthusiasm."

The Comets did improve in the second half, but not before scoring only six points in the second quarter and trailing 29-8 at the break.

Part of the issue all game was lack of touches in the post, which is something Christian goes into most games trying to accomplish on offense. It didn't happen very frequently Saturday night.

"We just played good help side defense today, we knew that's what they wanted to do and what their game plan was," Ginsbach said. "We told them, 'as long as we communicate and somebody knows that they have your back it's easier to play a little more aggressive on the post.'"

Christian more than doubled its points in the third quarter but Hill City still led 46-19 at the end of it. The Rangers outscored the Comets 18-12 in the fourth.

Karlee Simmons led all scorers with 15 points while Whitney Edwards pitched in 11. Abby Pierce led the Comets with 11.

"I think our teamwork is really great this year," Simmons said. "We always hustle and we're always putting in 100 percent effort, all the time. Communication is a big part (of our press), knowing where everyone is at because if you communicate enough you don't have to look to see where everyone is at, and knowing where the ball is and where you're supposed to be."

Hill City, 9-7, hosts Douglas Tuesday while Christian, 3-12, hosts Bennett County Tuesday. 

Contact Geoff Preston at geoffrey.preston@rapidcityjournal.com

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