Highlanders edge out Ranger

Highlanders edge out Ranger

With the conference championship already secured, the McLennan Highlanders are using the last three regular-season contests to sharpen their skills for the upcoming regional tournament.
 
This afternoon's game with the Ranger Rangers proved to be a tough, tight battle with neither team gaining more than a nine-point lead. McLennan squeaked out the 77-73 win to move to 25-3 on the season.
 
Ranger held the lead for the majority of the first half. Jaylen Thompson began the scoring with a 3-pointer for the Rangers and Forte Prater responded with one for McLennan to tie the game at three less than minute into the contest. The Rangers created a little distance for themselves with a 6-0 run to take the 9-3 lead with 17:25 to play in the first half. The Highlanders tied the game at 10 two minutes later. The teams kept it close and traded baskets down the stretch before Ranger pulled away once again, extending the lead back to six with 4:28 remaining in the half, 29-23. A 7-2 run including five points from Dillon Gooding put McLennan within one, 31-30 with 2:27 to go before intermission. The Rangers pushed the lead back to four, 34-30, but McLennan ended the half on another 7-2 run to take the one-point lead at the break, 37-36.
 
The Highlanders opened the second half on a 5-0 run to extend the lead to six but Ranger closed the gap once again and tied the game at 42 with 15:45 to play. The Rangers took the lead less than a minute later and extended it to six, 49-43. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Gooding and Pryor for the Highlanders tied the game at 49. McLennan pulled away late, taking its largest lead of the contest at nine points with 3:48 to play, 70-61. Ranger rallied late, pulling within two with 11.9 seconds to go but Gooding drained a pair of free throws in the final seconds to secure the win.
 
Dillon Gooding led the Highlanders with 20 points. Chris Pryor and Nehemiah Nuckolls added 17 and 11, respectively. Nuckolls also pulled down 10 rebounds to record the double-double.