Woodbury's Royals went on an 18-4 run to open the second half and bust a tight game wide open en route to a convincing 69-57 victory Wednesday, Jan. 10 over host East Ridge.
Superstar senior guard Michael Jones was at his best for the Royals, scorching the nets for 33 points before a standing-room only crowd at the Raptors Perch. Jones — who had 20 points in the first half — scored in just about every way possible, draining 3-point field goals and short jumpers and scoring on powerful drives to the basket.
"We were struggling a little bit in the first half," Jones said. "(They have a) really hostile environment, great team, great crowd.
"We came out in the second half and really locked down, executed the game plan and really made their shots tough and made our shots easy," Jones added. "I think that was really the key. ... I'm just happy to come out of here with a win. It's always tough to come to East Ridge and get a win."
East Ridge and Woodbury came in with a combined record of 13-7, but both have played rugged schedules this winter. Only one of those seven losses for the two schools has been to teams not ranked in the top 10 in one class or another.
Woodbury moved to 4-0 in the Suburban East Conference with the win, tied for the league lead with top-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall. The Royals are 7-4 on the season.
East Ridge slipped to 1-2 in conference play and are also 7-4 overall.
East Ridge got plenty of offensive production from stars Ben Carlson, Courtney Brown Jr. and Kendall Brown, who combined for 50 of the Raptors 57 points. But for every basket that trio gave the Raptors, the Royals responded with just a little bit more.
"In the second half I think we defended really well because in the first we weren't getting a body on Ben and he kept getting easy buckets," said DJ Fleming, who dropped in 13 points for the Royals. "During halftime our coach told us if we want to win this game we have to play defense and I think that's what we did to win this game.
"It's great because we always love to beat East Ridge," added Fleming.
East Ridge led 34-25 with under two minutes to play in the first half when the game started slipping away from the Raptors. Woodbury outscored the Raptors 5-0 to close the half and then continued its momentum to start the second half.
Woodbury then turned a 34-30 halftime deficit into a 48-38 lead with 11 minutes left. The Raptors never really recovered, closing to seven points way as close as they got the rest of the way.
"I thought we pressured the ball defensively a little bit more and we got them out of sync, kind of disrupted their timing a little bit," Woodbury head coach Kent Getzlaff said. "And I thought we did a much, much better job rebounding the basketball. That caused us a lot of problems in the first half and they're a terrific rebounding team.
"We made some nice defensive plays that led to some easy transition buckets, and then easy baskets kind of help your defense, your energy is just a lot better," Getzlaff added.
The Royals led 55-44 with 7:10 to play and 60-46 with 4:30 left. Woodbury outscored East Ridge 39-23 in the second half.
"It started when it was 34-to-25 and it was a minute-twenty and I think our next 10 possessions, first half and into the second half, we had six or seven turnovers when we didn't even get a shot at the basket," East Ridge coach Bryce Tesdahl said. "I think that really dictated our energy a little bit and we had a nine-point lead and I think we could have stretched it to 12 or 13, instead they got it down to four at half and that carried over to the second half.
"And credit Woodbury," Tesdahl added. "I think they wanted it a little bit more and they got into the spots and I think they have a better identity than us right now — they have a lot of seniors and we are playing a lot of younger kids and for that to happen it just takes a little bit of time. From our standpoint we need to get better and we need to take care of the ball and put ourselves in spots where we know we're successful when we try to do stuff out of our character too many times."
Besides big offensive nights from Jones and Fleming, Woodbury had a balanced scoring attack with Ryan Christensen adding nine, David Alston eight and Raysean Treadwell six.
Sophomore forward Carlson scored 22 points to lead the Raptors. Junior forward Courtney Brown Jr. added 15 and ninth-grade guard Kendall Brown had 13.
Woodbury hosts White Bear Lake (8-4, 2-1) Friday, then plays La Crosse Central (9-1) Saturday in the Midwest Players Classic in the La Crosse Civic Center.
East Ridge plays at Roseville (7-5, 2-2) Friday.