The Anoka-Ramsey Men's Basketball team split a pair of games this weekend defeating conference newcomer Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College 73-63 on Friday night, then losing to the Bethel JV 77-69 Saturday afternoon.
A strong defensive effort combined with an explosive second half offensively propelled the Rams to their 73-63 win over Fond du Lac. In their first home contest of the season, Anoka-Ramsey came out of the gates with a lot of energy which led to good defense allowing 39.3 percent (11-28) shooting for Fond du Lac and forcing 16 turnovers in the first half. Unfortunately that same energy led to some rushed shots resulting in only 33.3 percent (11-33) shooting for Anoka-Ramsey as the Rams trailed 28-25 at the break.
The second half was much of the same defensively as the Rams continued their strong performance forcing eight more Fond du Lac turnovers (24 for the game) and limiting the Thunder to 37.8 percent shooting (14-37). However in the last 20 minutes, the offense came alive as the Rams shot an impressive 60 percent (18-30) including hitting 6 of 11 3-point attempts (54.5 percent).
Sophomores led the way for Anoka-Ramsey with Kyle Matuska finishing the game with 22 points on 7-14 shooting (4-10 from beyond 3). Cole Alexander recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds including 4 on the offensive end. Brian Smith had his best game in a Golden Ram uniform finishing with 8 points on 4-4 shooting and pulling down 6 rebounds while playing good interior defense. Michael Kizzee and Antonio Tate rounded out a balanced attack with 14 and 13 points respectively.
After their Friday night game, the Rams had to make a quick turnaround by facing the Bethel JV at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Anoka-Ramsey began the game strong, taking an early 12 point lead. But fatigue kicked in during the last 10 minutes of the half as Bethel was able to trim the deficit to 4 points -- 35-31 -- by halftime. Bethel's momentum at the end of the first half carried into the beginning of the second half as they went on a 12-0 run in the first 5 minutes to take a 43-35 lead. A combination of turnovers, poor shooting, and poor defense continued to plague Anoka-Ramsey for much of the second half as they fell behind by as many as 22 points. A late surge by the Golden Rams bench cut the deficit to 8 with just under a minute remaining, but the large deficit was too much to overcome as the Rams fell 77-69.
Anoka-Ramsey was led by freshman DeAndre Mason who scored 12 points off the bench on perfect 5-5 shooting while also grabbing 6 rebounds. Michael Kizzee finished with 11 points. Freshman Kenneth Bass had a good overall performance with 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists with only 1 turnover. Mohamed Camara and Bryce Wagner also put in good performances finishing with 9 points and 7 points respectively.
Next up for Anoka-Ramsey is the St. John's University JV. The Rams travel to Collegeville, Minn. to take on the Johnnies at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov.22. The Rams are now 1-3 overall on the season.