Woodbury boys basketball: Ninth-ranked Royals beat Hastings, River FallsThe Woodbury boys basketball team earned a No. 9 state ranking last week and Royals responded with a pair of wins.
By: Mike Longaecker, Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
The Royals are officially wearing a target on their backs.
Woodbury last week entered the state’s elite rankings when it was named the No. 9 team in Minnesota.
Scott Swansson, the Royals’ head basketball coach, knows what it means.
“They’re going to want to knock us off,” he said.
So far, there hasn’t been much of that. The Royals kept their Suburban East Conference record unbeaten streak alive last week with a win over Hastings and improved their overall record to 12-2 with a road win against nonconference foe River Falls.
As for that enviable ranking, Swansson said that while it might be red meat to opponents, it’s important his players remember they’re only in the middle of their regular season schedule.
“It really doesn’t mean much until the end of the year,” he said of the top-10 ranking.
The Royals had previously entered a top-10 lists, but last week’s entry was the first time they made it on the coveted Minnesota Basketball News list.
On Saturday, the Royals topped River Falls in a low-scoring 48-34 affair.
Woodbury led 25-17 at the break. Swansson said the Wildcats “played very hard,” but were kept at bay by a tough Royals defense. Woodbury topped River Falls 23-17 in the second half.
Senior Ryan Fritze continued to have the hot hand. After dropping 17 points on Hastings earlier in the week, he scored 22 against River Falls.
Junior Renard Suggs scored 14 for the Royals. His brother, senior guard Rickey Suggs, didn’t make it on the scoring list – but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. A regular among the Royals’ leading scorers, he went ice cold against the Wildcats, shooting 0-for-9 on the night.
“The ball just wouldn’t go in the basket,” Swansson said of Rickey Suggs’ slow night.
The team was also without second-leading scorer Connor McKeen, who was out Saturday night with an illness.
“(Fritze) kind of picked up where Connor left off,” Swansson said.
The Royals jumped out to a 42-28 halftime lead. Woodbury stayed in control in the second half, which closed with the Royals ahead 31-29.
Seniors Ben Rexroth and Rickey Suggs scored 14 and 12 on the night, respectively. Renard Suggs added 10 points against the Raiders.
McKeen, a senior, led the team in rebounds with 10 and tied with Renard Suggs for the team lead in assists, with four.
Swansson said his players’ goal is to make through the first round of SEC play undefeated.
To do that, they have three more games to play: Park and Mounds View stand in their way.
Mounds View, tied for third in the conference at 5-2, poses the biggest challenge. They Royals play host to the Mustangs Friday.
Woodbury played Park (0-7 SEC) on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to press.