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Woodbury center Ben Rizzardi handles season tip-off duties during the Royals’ 81-70 home win over Shakopee. (Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker)
Woodbury center Ben Rizzardi handles season tip-off duties during the Royals’ 81-70 home win over Shakopee. (Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker)

Woodbury boys basketball: Season tips off right for Royals

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Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

The Royals didn’t match up well against the Shakopee Sabers – on paper.

But the significant size differential between the teams didn’t keep Woodbury from beating the visiting Sabers by double-digits last week.

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The Royals, buoyed by 34 points from senior guard Matt Ambriz, topped Shakopee 81-70 on Nov. 6 at Woodbury High School.

“That’s a good win,” said Woodbury coach Scott Swansson. “We’re fortunate to beat them.”

Ambriz drained six 3-pointers during the game, most of which came during a torrid first half where he scored 21 points and hit five 3s.

Swansson said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the win, noting that practices leading up to the Shakopee contest weren’t encouraging.

“We came out and really battled,” he said.

Swansson credited senior center Ben Rizzardi for helping contain the Sabers’ two big men – Tyler Weiss, a 6-foot 8-inch senior and Jake Maiers, a 6-foot 7-inch senior. Rizzardi, listed at 6-foot-5, “just played like a man – and it was good,” Swansson said.

Rizzardi chipped in eight points against Shakopee, while fellow seniors Isaiah Coddon and Charlie Olson scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. Senior Ben Meyer scored nine points for the Royals, with fellow 12th-grader Nick Yan chipping in seven points.

Swansson said he was encouraged by the ensemble performance, which he said will be needed when other opponents key their defense on Ambriz.

“There will be some other guys who step up,” the coach said.

That shouldn’t be hard, he said, noting that the current group of seniors has played together for years.

“They just kind of all know their role,” Swansson said.

Still, he said the Royals showed they will need to improve their conditioning – “especially down the stretch, where we need some stops.”

The Royals entered a busy week of nonconference play on Tuesday, Dec. 3, in a road game against St. Paul Johnson that was played after the Bulletin went to press. Woodbury stays on the road on Friday against Edina and closes out the week at 2 p.m. Saturday in a home game against Rosemount.

-Mike Longaecker

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