Woodbury boys basketball: Royals back on top of Suburban EastWins over Forest Lake and White Bear Lake set up showdown with Roseville for Suburban East Conference supremacy this week.
By: Mike Longaecker, Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
This week’s game against Roseville just got a little more interesting.
Heading into last Friday’s game, Woodbury trailed the first place Raiders by a game in the Suburban East Conference. But a win for the Royals over Forest Lake and an overtime road loss for Roseville at Stillwater locked the teams into a tie for the SEC lead. Woodbury, riding a four-game winning streak, now sits at 18-4 overall and 12-2 in the SEC. The Royals tip off with Roseville on Thursday, Feb. 23, at Woodbury High School.
“Thursday’s is a huge game,” said Woodbury head coach Scott Swansson.
The latest win came at home on senior night against the Rangers. Woodbury won 85-50 and saw diverse scoring output: thirteen Royals recorded points, led by Ryan Fritze (16) and Connor McKeen (12).
“We don’t really have a bad player on our team, one through 15,” Swansson said.
The team has four players averaging more than 10 points a game – Rickey Suggs, Connor McKeen, Renard Suggs and Ryan Fritze.
“I could care less who scores our points. As long as we score more than the other team, that’s all I care about,” Swansson said.
He called the Forest Lake game one of the most physical games the team played all season. He said flying elbows from Rangers players left Renard Suggs and Fritze with bloody noses.
“I think Forest Lake got a little frustrated, maybe” Swansson said.
Friday’s win followed a tough road game at White Bear Lake, where Woodbury overcame a first-half deficit on the way to its 68-57 victory.
“We didn’t give up,” Swansson said.
Rickey Suggs 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.
“That helped us get back into the game,” Swansson said.
The Royals went into intermission trailing 26-25.
Both teams played a close second half until about 16 minutes into the frame.
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.
“We ran the floor tonight,” senior Rickey Suggs said after the game.
Woodbury played Hastings on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to press.
The rematch against the Raiders – Woodbury won the first game 89-75 at Roseville – pits two athletic, agile teams against each other. The Raiders are led by Mackenzie Johnson (16.7 points per game) and Logan Brown (13.3 per game).
Opening tap is at 7:15 p.m. in the Lion’s Den.