The big run they needed never came.
Though Woodbury brought bursts of steam and narrowed the gap to single digits in the second half against Tartan, the Royals were unable to collect enough momentum to beat a youthful Titans squad that couldn't seem to miss Wednesday night in the Section 4 4-A finals.
Tartan's 90-78 win over Woodbury at East Ridge brought an end to the Royals' season and to the coaching career of Woodbury head coach Scott Swansson, who retires at the end of the school year.
The win catapulted Tartan into the state tournament.
After walking off the court for the final time and receiving handshakes from well-wishers around the East Ridge gym, Swansson said he was surrounded by a sense of gratitude.
“I’m just grateful that I had 35 years of coaching,” he said. “Three sports, great students, great athletes, some fun along the way. We won some, we lost some – way it is.
“I had fun competing. It’s what I love to do.”
His final game came at the hands of a torrid young Tartan team that connected on an impressive 58 percent of 3-pointers attempted.
Woodbury senior Isaiah Coddon said that element of Tartan’s game was the most punishing.
“It seemed like every one was dropping,” he said. “I thought we did all right on defense, but that shot was just getting to us. That’s what just took over the game. And it got into a little streak – we came back, that 3 ball hit us again.”
Coddon was one of three Woodbury players to score at least 20 points. He and senior Nick Yan both scored 20, while guard Matt Ambriz added 22 for Woodbury. Senior Ben Rizzardi recorded 12 points in the effort.
“I thought we played really well on defense, but they played a really good game and we couldn’t really stop them,” Rizzardi said after the game.
Jordan Horn was the driving force behind Tartan’s offense. The freshman led all scorers with 28 points. Keenan Bellaphant scored 12 for the Titans, while Thomas Hanson and Brody Jackson scored 11 and 10, respectively.
Swansson said he called on his players to hold their heads high during his final post-game speech.
“We just ran into a team that really shot the ball well,” Swansson said.
See the complete story in the March 12 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin.