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Woodbury boys basketball: Royals fall to No. 8 Roseville, rebound at home

Woodbury freshman Jeremiah Codden attempts a contested shot last week at Roseville. (Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker)

A distinct size differential tripped up Woodbury early in the week, but the Royals rebounded with a Suburban East Conference win at home.

Tied for third place at 6-3 in conference action, the Royals remained in contention for the SEC title at week’s end. If that’s to happen, though, head coach Scott Swansson said at least one element of their game needs to improve in a hurry.

“We need to play better defense,” he said.

Swansson said that was evident in the 83-80 road loss Jan. 14 to No. 8 Roseville and in Woodbury’s 85-71 home win over White Bear Lake.

Against Roseville, Woodbury (10-6; 6-3 SEC) found itself down 47-42 at the half, but whittled the deficit to just two points in the closing seconds.

Roseville, which has seven players at least 6-foot-4, leveraged its size advantage over Woodbury. Six-foot, 6-inch center Derek Magnuson scored 23 for Roseville (9-6; 7-1 SEC) and 6-foot-4 junior forward Jesper Horsted added 19.

“Their big guys scored better than we thought they could,” Swansson said.

Still, fortune seemed to be shining on the Royals for a brief moment with 12 seconds left. Down by two points, Woodbury sent a Roseville player to the free throw line, where he missed both shots.

But just as soon as the second shot clanged off the rim, another Roseville player snatched up the rebound, which forced the Royals to commit another foul. That player sank one of his two shots, spreading the leads to three.

Senior guard Matt Ambriz put up a last-second 3-point attempt that missed the mark.

The ending was maddeningly familiar to Swansson; Woodbury fell in almost exactly same fashion to Osseo earlier in the season.

“We’ve practiced it,” he said of the necessity for players to box out opponents after free throws. “We’ve got to practice it more, I guess.”

Woodbury center Ben Rizzardi scored a season-high 28 points in the loss, while Ambriz tallied 22 points against the Raiders. Seniors Isaiah Codden and Ben Meyer scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, for Woodbury.

Things went the Royals’ way three days later in a win over White Bear Lake (6-9; 3-5 SEC), but that didn’t leave Swansson much happier with the outcome.

“It was really sloppy,” he said of the home win. “No one guarded anyone.”

Four Royals recorded double-digits in the game, led by Ambriz’s 29 points. Codden scored 16, while senior guards Nick Yan and Charlie Olson added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Woodbury started this week off Tuesday at home against Park (4-11, 0-8 SEC) in a game played after the Bulletin went to press.

The Royals continue the busy week on Friday at Stillwater (7-8, 3-6 SEC) and close it out with one of the state’s toughest opponents.

Woodbury plays No. 2-ranked Hopkins on Saturday at the Super 60 Showcase event in Brooklyn Center.

The game represents the first meeting of the two teams since they squared off in the 2012 state tournament quarterfinals. Swansson said he’d like to avenge that loss.

“It’d be a good win for us,” he said.

-Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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