The East Ridge boys' basketball team came into the 2019-20 season as the No. 5 ranked team in Class AAAA and the Raptors were ready for a challenging non-conference start to the season.
That came quickly as East Ridge opened up the regular season with a game on Saturday against No. 4 ranked Prior Lake, according to Minnesota Basketball News. It was a big match up between two top recruits from the Class of 2020 as East Ridge's Ben Carlson faced off against Prior Lake's Dawson Garcia.
The Raptors started off the game back-and-forth with the Lakers, but Prior Lake took a big lead heading into halftime with a 41-29 score. East Ridge came back in the second half on a 15-4 scoring streak coming out of the half and trailed 45-44.
Prior Lake and Garcia didn't worry about the close lead as the Lakers widened the score to win 76-60 to put East Ridge at 0-1 to start the season.
"I liked how we came back in the second half and didn't give up at halftime," said head coach Jose Peltier. "These types of games are what we want early on the season because we learned a lot heading into practice next week. I liked certain things from today, but there's obviously some improvements to make before the next game."
The last time these two teams faced off was early in the 2018-19 season and Prior Lake earned the 70-62 win over East Ridge, but Carlson only scored two points during that game. Garcia scored 25 points in the game last season and he scored over 30 in Saturday's contest.
Carlson scored 19 points on Saturday and led the Raptors in point along with Kendall Blue's 19 points as well. Ben North and Brody Kriesel each scored eight points, while Rob Jeter scored four points. Nolan Goetz rounded out the scoring with two points.
"I thought we moved the ball around well and we were able to see a lot of different lineups throughout the game," Carlson said. "It's good to see what works and what can be improved early on the season."
Peltier said he wanted to see what lineups worked for the Raptors during the game and that's why there were so many changes. Carlson and Peltier agreed that this year's team has a lot of depth and they're both excited about forming lineups to not only score baskets, but defend the ball as well.
The starting lineup on Saturday consisted of North, Kriesel, Blue, Carlson and Drew Adams. All of these five players are six feet or taller, which they hope the height will help them defensively with zones and stopping the ball across the court.
Peltier was able to see that in certain moments on Saturday, especially during the 15-4 run for East Ridge and now he wants to continue seeing more of it in future games.
"We'll have a week to get ready for our next game and I'm looking forward to seeing what these players do during that week," Peltier said. "We have another tough team ahead of us next weekend."
That tough match up is true as East Ridge will travel to Hopkins High School for the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Raptors will face off against No. 2 ranked Park Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
For Carlson, the match ups won't get any easier as he just played Garcia, a Marquette commit, and will play Dain Dainja, a Baylor commit, in the Park Center game. These two faced off in the third-place game at the state tournament last season and both players scored 14 points in the Pirates' 61-59 win over the Raptors.