The East Ridge boys basketball team found home cooking to be mighty tasty in a pair of wins last week.

Off a 1-2 start, East Ridge (3-2) pounded St. Louis Park 83-35 on Tuesday, Dec. 3, and beat Minneapolis Southwest 83-60 Friday, Dec. 6, in the Raptors’ first two home games of the season. 

“We’re really picking it up together and starting to play team basketball,” East Ridge senior forward Brian Ishola said. “We had a couple hard losses, but it’s feeling better now.”

In the home opener, East Ridge opened up a 50-27 lead at the half on St. Louis Park, then held the Orioles (0-5) to just eight second-half points in the 48-point win at The Perch.

Five different players scored in double figures for the Raptors in the win. Ishola led the way with a game-high 21 points. Senior Ryan Mathis had 13 points and Parker Moquist, Ryan Keenan and Jake Knupp each scored 10 points. 

In the win over Minneapolis Southwest, East Ridge ran out to a 41-30 first-half lead and didn’t let up in the second half. A basket by Ishola off a steal put the Raptors ahead 24 points with 7 minutes, 20 seconds left to play in the game as East Ridge cruised to the victory over the winless Lakers (0-4).

Ishola led the way with a game-high 24 points, including 16 points in the first half. Knupp scored 19 points and junior guard Sid Tomes scored 12 points.

“My teammates put me in the right spot and gave me the opportunities,” Ishola said. “I just did what I could. Any day it could be me, Keenan, Knupp, Sid, anybody. We’re really deep.”

Ranked as high as ninth in the state by some publications in the preseason polls, East Ridge opened the season by falling to Chanhassen 80-78 in overtime on the road on Nov. 23, then thumped Mahtomedi 75-49 on Nov. 26 before losing 63-58 to Shakopee in the Anoka-Ramsey Showcase on Saturday, Nov. 30. 

Ishola said he still believes the Raptors will be formidable this season. 

“It’s better to get those losses out of the way now,” he said. “We had our difficulties early, but we should be good now. We’re trying to get to the state tournament. We have big expectations. We have five seniors back this year and have big goals.”

East Ridge begins Suburban East Conference play this week. The Raptors played host to Hastings (2-3) on Tuesday, Dec. 10, after the Bulletin went to print. Next, East Ridge tips off with Mounds View (3-0) at home on Friday.

“Conference play should be fun,” Ishola said. “We’ll play some very good teams. I’m glad it’s underway.”

-Patrick Johnson