Woodbury boys basketball: Royals look to climb in conferenceWoodbury climbed into a three-way tie last week for third place in the 10-team Suburban East Conference.
By: Mike Longaecker, edtior, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury climbed into a three-way tie last week for third place in the 10-team Suburban East Conference.
But with two unbeaten teams standing in front of the Royals, head coach Scott Swansson had just one thing to say about his team’s 3-2 conference record.
“Bad,” he said. “We don’t like to be chasing two losses.”
The Royals get a chance to chip away at that lead on Friday, Jan. 18, following a week that propelled Woodbury up the SEC ladder.
Woodbury topped White Bear Lake 82-77 in a Jan. 8 road game before beating Forest Lake 56-53 at home on Friday, Jan. 11.
The Forest Lake game opened with Woodbury going on a 3-point tear led by Renard Suggs. The senior guard battered the Rangers with four 3s in less than four minutes.
The Royals, who recorded nine 3-pointers in the first half, went into the break with a 54-27 lead.
Swansson said 6-foot 6-inch Noah Davis – who finished with 21 points – gave Woodbury fits, but “besides that I thought we played pretty well.” The Royals were able to capitalize on Forest Lake’s 1-3-1 defensive zone that allowed Woodbury to hit open shots.
“We got some good looks,” Swansson said.
Suggs led Woodbury in scoring with 20 points – one of five Royals accumulating double digits in the game. Junior guard Matt Ambriz scored 16 and senior forward Mario Franco finished with 14 points. Senior guards Diallo Powell and Robert Claypool scored 12 points apiece for the Royals.
Suggs finished the night with six 3-pointers against Forest Lake. He is now second in the state for 3-pointers made with 43, trailing only Bethany Academy’s Sam Hagen (45).
Against White Bear Lake, however, the Royals were anything but dominant. Woodbury cultivated a 17-point first-half lead that shrunk to 10 at the half.
“White Bear can score,” Swansson said.
Behind a barrage of 3-pointers, the Bears managed to tie the game in the second half, though Woodbury battled back and held on for the five-point win – despite Suggs and Claypool both battling illnesses.
White Bear Lake’s Stevie Hjelmberg, who contributed to the Bears’ 15 3-pointers in the game, led all scorers with 25 points.
Powell was Woodbury’s leading scorer with 22 points. The Royals’ other top scorers were Ambriz (15), Suggs (13), Franco (13) and Claypool (12).
Up next for Woodbury is what Swansson called the biggest game of the year to this point: Roseville, who was tied atop the conference at 5-0 with East Ridge.
Crowds attending the home game should expect to see a flurry of scoring, Swansson said. Roseville is the top-scoring team in Class 4A, while Woodbury is No. 3 in the Class 4A.
The teams clashed three times last year, with Woodbury winning the rubber match in the Section 3AAAA championship game.
So what’s it going to take for Woodbury to come out on top on Friday?
In word, Swansson said, it is defense.
“We need five guys working together,” he said. “When that happens, I’ll be happy.”
The game tips off at 7:15 p.m. at WHS.
Woodbury also played an SEC game Tuesday, Jan. 15, after the Bulletin went to press.