Woodbury basketball: Royals rolling againWoodbury’s back on a roll.
By: Mike Longaecker, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury’s back on a roll.
The Royals overcame a first-half deficit Tuesday on the road against White Bear Lake on their way to a 68-57 victory.
The win improved Woodbury’s overall record to 17-4 and 11-2 in the Suburban East Conference. The Royals trail SEC leading Roseville by a game.
“We ran the floor tonight,” senior Rickey Suggs said after the game.
He led all scorers with 22 points on the night. Fellow Royals senior Ryan Fritze scored 13 against the Bears. Teammates Renard Suggs and Connor McKeen scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Woodbury found itself down by as many as 10 points in the first half, before utilizing a full-court press to mount a comeback in the closing minutes of the frame. The Royals went into intermission trailing 26-25.
Both teams played a close second half until about 16 minutes in.
The Bears began to foul Woodbury, possibly in hopes of capitalizing on recent free-throw struggles – especially for Rickey Suggs.
It didn’t work.
Rickey Suggs was 4-for-4 from the line in the closing minutes. Tyler Graves knocked down three of his four free throws in the last minute.
The win extended the Royals’ current winning streak to three.
After being handed two consecutive losses on the road, the Royals came back home last week for two wins at the Lion’s Den.
Woodbury topped Stillwater 55-53 Friday after dominating nonconference foe Hudson Monday, Feb. 6, 83-42.
The Royals remain in second place in the Suburban East Conference with a 10-2 record (16-4 overall).
Coach Scott Swansson said the commanding victory over Hudson was a case of his Royals exorcising their demons after close losses the previous week to Suburban East Conference foes East Ridge and Cretin-Derham Hall.
“I think we were still upset about the week before and somebody had to pay,” he said. “I don’t think too many teams could have beat us that night. No disrespect to Hudson – they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
McKeen led the Royals in scoring with 18 points. Fellow senior Rickey Suggs chipped in 13 points to go with 11 rebounds and four steals.
Fritze, a senior guard for the Royals, scored 12 points on the night and was followed by junior Renard Suggs’ 10 points.
A total of 11 Woodbury players recorded points against Hudson.
“We were kind of on a mission that night,” Swansson said.
Friday’s game against Stillwater, however, was anything but a blowout.
Woodbury trailed 25-19 at the half to a Stillwater team that Swansson said played a very slow, deliberate offense.
“That made it tough for us,” he said. “They looked for really good shot and made them.”
Woodbury was down by 12 points with about eight minutes left in the game when Swansson said “we kind of cranked it up.”
“We played with a sense of urgency and knew what was at stake,” he said.
Woodbury turned to a full-court press and forced Stillwater turnovers. The Royals found themselves up by two with seven seconds remaining.
On their final possession, the Ponies brought the ball from one baseline to the other, but stout defense by junior Woodbury guard Robert Claypool didn’t allow his Stillwater opponent to get a shot off until after time expired.
“It was very solid,” Swansson said of Claypool’s defense.
Rickey Suggs led the Woodbury scoring attack with 18 points – and a new look at the free throw line. After struggling much of the season to convert free-throw opportunities – a challenge that has meant Swansson keeping him on the bench in the closing minutes of games – the senior guard opted to begin shooting free throws right-handed.
“It seems to be better,” Swansson said of the new approach, which led to him connecting on three of four free throws against Hudson and four of eight against Stillwater.
Woodbury faces Forest Lake Friday at home.