Rangers fall short against Drury in opening round of NCAA Tournament

Despite an 11-1 run late in the game, our Rangers (23-7) lost to the defending NCAA champion Drury University Panthers (26-3) 69-64. The game started out very slowly for both teams, Parkside going 2 of 11 from the field in the opening minutes, and Drury turning the ball over on their first three possessions. After the first media timeout is when Parkside made their first push, going on a 7-1 run, taking an early 17-10 lead. After that, it was pretty even for a while, both teams exchanging leads (seven total lead changes in the first half). Both teams were playing extremely tough going into the half, not wanting to give each other any momentum going forward. But, around the 1:05 mark of the first half is when Drury began to pull away. After a Parkside turnover, they took it coast to coast for an easy dunk and didn’t look back. Drury took a 33-26 lead into halftime.

Parkside’s First-Team All-Conference player, Ziggy Riauka led the Rangers in both points and boards in the first half (8 in both categories). Jimmy Gavin added 6 points and 3 dimes in the first half and Jordan Mach chipped in 8 points.

Drury started out the second half triple teaming Ziggy in the post, not allowing the All-Conference player to get into any sort of rhythm. Drury started out the half very strong, eventually getting their biggest lead of the game (15). Around the 7:50 mark is when Parkside went on their last and strongest push of the game, going on an 11-1 run and getting as close as five points. Drury slowly began to pull away again, but Andy Mazurczak, who finished with eleven points, gets a very clutch and-one basket to bring the Rangers back to within five with a minute and seven seconds on the clock. As Drury began to use clock and force Parkside to foul and seemingly pull away, Colt Grandstaff, who finished with eleven points, hit a three pointer with fourteen seconds left, making it a 65-61 point game. But, even a Jimmy Gavin three point basket as time expired wasn’t enough to lift Parkside passed the defending champions, as they fell short 69-64.

The Rangers went far and beyond expectations for the year. Going 23-6 before the loss on Saturday and picking up a second consecutive GLVC East Division regular season title. The Rangers went on an early 10 game winning streak to kick-start the season, and got as high as 16th in the rankings. Though they may have fallen short on Saturday, we should all be proud of the program for what they accomplished this season and for the bright future ahead.

Article by Jalen Perry

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