Dakota Ridge’s season didn’t get off to quite the start they envisioned.
A 68-61 Class 5A nonleague loss to Rangeview on Dec. 2 at Dakota Ridge High School was marred by a poor second quarter showing from the Eagles, who failed to make a single field goal and scored just four points in the quarter.
“We didn’t play as a team,” said Danny DiFolco, who scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter. “Guys didn’t trust each other. We talked about it at halftime, how we needed to come together as a team.”
After playing even through the first quarter, Dakota Ridge went into a shooting funk in the second quarter, and also gave Rangeview plenty of easy opportunities to score, thanks to seven turnovers. The Raptors outscored the Eagles 16-4 in the second quarter and led 34-19 at halftime.
The Eagles, to their credit, didn’t pack it in after falling behind by 15 points in the first half. They stayed patient, worked their offense and methodically chipped away at the Raptors’ lead.
In the third quarter, Derek Vander Velde put on a show, scoring 15 of his team’s 20 points. Vander Velde controlled the post and also floated out to the baseline where he knocked down a couple of mid-range jumpers.
A three-point play by Vander Velde (who finished with a team-high 22 points) off an assist from Abdullah Musleh (eight points) brought the Eagles within 11 and they closed within nine after a 3-pointer from Brent Terrell late in the quarter.
DiFolco, held scoreless the first three quarters, finally found his shooting touch in the fourth quarter and knocked down three straight jumpers – two of which came from behind the 3-point arc – to draw Dakota Ridge within seven at 54-47.
“Coach (Curi Yutzy) told me to just keep shooting,” DiFolco said. “It felt good to finally see some shots fall in the fourth quarter.”
Rangeview’s speed on the perimeter eventually proved too much for Dakota Ridge as the Raptors pushed their lead back up to as many as 14 points before a late rally by the Eagles brought the score back to within single digits.
“I think we were a little anxious, being that it was the first game,” DiFolco said. “We’re a much better team that what we showed.”
Dakota Ridge 15-4-20-22—61