Woodbury boys basketball: Royals soar to 2-0 startTwo non-conference wins last week gave Woodbury a jump start to the 2011-12 season.
By: Mike Longaecker, Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Two non-conference wins last week gave Woodbury a jump start to the 2011-12 season.
The Royals built on a 69-60 victory Tuesday, Dec. 6, over St. Paul Central by defeating Shakopee 62-46 four days later.
For head coach Scott Swansson, the week showed a distinct progression in teamwork. He watched a strong first half against Central devolve into what he called an “individualistic” second-half performance that gave the Royals just enough of a lead to hang on for the win.
“We didn’t play very good team basketball,” Swansson said of the Central game.
So he spend Wednesday through Friday drilling his players during practice on embracing a team approach.
The effort paid off, Swansson said.
“The guys bought into it and worked hard,” he said of the Shakopee win. “We learned our lesson.”
Against the Sabers, Woodbury built a 33-27 halftime lead. Swansson said the key against Shakopee was preventing the team from exploiting its size differential; the Sabers’ three biggest players ranged from 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-4, while Woodbury has no player taller than 6-foot-4.
Swansson said his Royals overcame that disparity by putting heavy pressure on the Shakopee’s guards so they couldn’t feed the post players.
“I really liked our defense,” he said.
Woodbury ran away in the second half, allowing just 19 points. The defensive effort made it the antithesis of the Central game, Swansson said.
“Everyone did their job. Everyone did their role,” he said. “It was really good to see.”
Junior guard Robert Claypool led the Royals in scoring, with 15 points against the Sabers. Renard Suggs, another junior guard, scored 11. Seniors Connor McKeen and Rickey Suggs both had eight points against Shakopee.
Woodbury built a 17-point halftime lead against Central, enough to fend off the Minutemen’s second-half output, where they outscored Woodbury 39-31.
“I liked the way we played in the first half, but that was about it,” Swansson said. “We got too individualistic and didn’t stick to our plan.”
Renard Suggs led all Woodbury scorers with 18 points. He also handed out three assists, in addition to shooting 7-for-14 from the field.
His brother, senior Ricky Suggs, scored 13 on the night, in addition to collecting 11 rebounds and recording seven steals.
Royals senior Ryan Fritze, who was 3-for-6 from the three-point line, also scored 13 points in the game.
Woodbury traveled Tuesday to Edina, a game that was played after the Bulletin wen to press.
Woodbury opens Suburban East Conference play Friday in a home game against Cretin-Derham Hall.
Swansson said Cretin is again poised to be a force in the SEC and should present a mix of height and speed. He hoped last week’s games against opponents who feature both of those characteristics – speed in Central, and height in Shakopee – should prepare his Royals well for the Cretin matchup.
“They’re the team to beat in the conference,” Swansson said of Cretin.