Woodbury boys basketball: Big week makes Royal statementIn the middle of a stretch that brought three games in four days, Woodbury topped Edina, the No. 7 ranked team in Class 4A. The 78-72 Thursday, Dec. 13, home win was bookended by two other victories – a 58-49 road win over Shakopee and an 83-86 defeat of Rosemount.
By: Mike Longaecker, edtior, Woodbury Bulletin
It was a statement week for the Royals.
In the middle of a stretch that brought three games in four days, Woodbury topped Edina, the No. 7 ranked team in Class 4A. The 78-72 Thursday, Dec. 13, home win was bookended by two other victories – a 58-49 road win over Shakopee and an 83-86 defeat of Rosemount.
Head basketball coach Scott Swansson said the Edina win gave Woodbury (3-1 overall) some momentum heading into the Friday game against Rosemount.
“I think it gives a little bit of confidence,” he said.
Just four Woodbury players accounted for all 78 points in the game that brought two Division I signees to town in Edina’s Graham Woodward – headed to Penn State on a basketball scholarship – and 6-foot 9-inch Reggie Lynch, who has committed to Illinois State.
Renard Suggs led the way for the Royals with 26 points. Robert Claypool finished with 20, Diallo Powell scored 17 and Matt Ambriz recorded 15 for Woodbury.
Swansson said the defensive game plan against Edina put his Royals “out of our element a bit,” but turned out to be effective in stopping Lynch.
“We took the big kid out of the game after a while,” he said.
Woodbury led 40-37 at the half, though the lead narrowed to just one point deep in the second half, despite Woodbury’s ability to force turnovers and ability to convert transition baskets.
The free-throw line turned out to be Woodbury’s friend in the game’s closing minute; Suggs, Powell, Claypool and Ambriz all sank clutch free throws as time ticked away.
“I liked our offense,” Swansson said.
Suggs, who drained four 3-pointers against Edina and five against Shakopee, moved into fourth place in the state for 3-pointers made.
Swansson said Rosemount clamped down on Suggs the next night, allowing him to just eight points after combining for a total of 80 points in his first three games.
“They did some things to take away (Suggs’) offense, but he made them pay with some fantastic assists,” he said.
Swansson recalled telling his players during a timeout against Rosemount that if they embrace unselfish play like Suggs had been doing, “they’ll be very hard to beat.”
Suggs dished out five assists, while Powell led the way in scoring with 25 points. Mario Franco scored 12 against Rosemount, with Ambriz scoring 11 on the night.
A total of nine Woodbury players scored at least three points in the comfortable win.
The Rosemount game finished out Woodbury’s nonconference schedule and set the state for Suburban East Conference play.
That began Tuesday against Cretin-Derham Hall in a game played after the Bulletin went to press.
And then there’s Friday’s game. Opponent: East Ridge.
The match-up pits two of the top SEC teams against each other, in a game where there will be more than just conference implications.
“There’s some bragging rights on the line,” Swansson said.
East Ridge should present a mighty challenge to the Royals: The Raptors have beaten their last two opponents – North and Minneapolis Southwest – by margins of at least 30 points.
Five Raptors players, led by Brian Ishola, are averaging more than 10 points per game.
“They’re good,” Swansson said. “They’re talented and they can score.”
The rivalry game gets under way at 7:15 p.m. at East Ridge.