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2013 Year in Review: Woodbury boys basketball team reaches state for second-straight year

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Woodbury earned the right to play on the hardwood at Target Center for a second-consecutive season in 2013.

To earn the trop to state, Woodbury tipped familiar foe Stillwater 52-44 – one year after Woodbury dispatched Roseville in the section title game.

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“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said 2013 graduate and Woodbury forward Mario Franco after the game.

In the section championship, 2013 graduate Renard Suggs led the way for Woodbury with 21 points, including five 3-pointers. Stillwater started with an early lead that began to crumble after guard Matt Ambriz got hot late in the first half. He forced a steal and drove to the hoop, where he was fouled. After making both free throws, putting Woodbury up 20-19, he drained a 3-pointer three plays later with 1:40 left in the half – the final bucket in the first frame – to give the Royals a 27-23 halftime lead.

Suggs and Ambriz, who finished with 16 points in the game, came out firing in the second half; a Suggs 3-pointer gave the Royals their largest lead at 39-26.

The Ponies executed their patient, deliberate offensive attack that drew the game to within four with about two minutes remaining, but it was as close as Stillwater would get.

Woodbury’s Rob Claypool, Diallo Powell, Franco and Ambriz all sank clutch free throws in the closing minute to help seal the game for Woodbury.

At the 2013 state tournament, Woodbury lost 70-59 to Eden Prairie in the opening round.

A close contest in the first half got away from a Royals squad that never seemed to find its groove.

Woodbury, whose 78 points per-game scoring average was the third-highest among all 4A teams at state struggled uncharacteristically from the field on March 20, making just 33 percent of its shots in the 70-59 loss.

“It’s too bad that people didn’t get to see our real team playing,” Swansson said after the quarterfinal game at Target Center.

The loss brought an early end to a state tile bid for the Royals, whose depth and experience from their 2012 trip to state brightened expectations that the team could make a deep run at the tournament.

Senior guard Diallo Powell was Woodbury’s leading scorer against Eden Prairie, with 19 hard-fought points, many of which came off penetrating attacks to the basket, along with nine rebounds.

It marked Woodbury’s second-straight trip to state and seventh overall. In 2012, the Royals fell 82-75 to Hopkins in the first round.

-Mike Longaecker

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Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
(651) 319-4505
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