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Boys' Basketball: Comeback win keeps Royals tied for SEC lead

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DJ Fleming dribbles into the Cretin-Derham Hall defense during the first half of Friday's game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 3
Jake West drives to the lane during the first half of Friday's game. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)3 / 3

Ryan Christensen did not immediately realize the magnitude of his layup in the final seconds of Friday's Suburban East Conference game against Cretin-Derham Hall.

Jake West inbounded the ball to a wide open Christensen alone under the basket for an easy layup to give the Royals a 76-75 lead with less than five seconds remaining in the game. The basket ended up being the game-winner as Cretin-Derham Hall's final shot attempt fell short.

"I don't think I really understood what happened until Ike and Jake mobbed me afterward," Christensen said about teammates Ike Thilgen and Jake West.

Woodbury needed to make a significant comeback in the second half to have the chance to win in the final minute. Cretin-Derham Hall started the second half on a 7-0 run and built a 15-point lead that nearly put Woodbury out of reach. But the Royals were able to use a full-court press to force a few turnovers. Woodbury cut the score to 69-66 with 5:45 left in the game, setting up a battle to the finish line for both teams.

The Royals also fell behind 17-11 after the first eight minutes of the first half. But they came back to grab a 39-38 lead at halftime with the help of some key baskets by West. The Woodbury senior scored 14 of his 25 points in the first half.

"If the other team goes on a run, everyone has to pick it up," West said. "I just did my part, and tonight, that was scoring points there."

Michael Jones led Woodbury by scoring 27 points. Cretin-Derham Hall had five players score in the double-digits, led by University of Minnesota commit Daniel Oturu's 25 points.

Friday's victory helped the Royals bounce back from Tuesday's 66-61 loss to crosstown rival East Ridge. Head coach Kent Getzlaff said the Royals had been fighting a little bit of a lull over the past few weeks. But on Friday he said the effort was back.

"We had no fight on Tuesday, none," Getzlaff said. "A couple of the games before that, not as much. But tonight, this group just decided it wasn't too much. They were going to grind it out."

Friday's game was an important test to figure out which team would stay on top in the Suburban East Conference. With the win, Woodbury increased its SEC record to 13-2 and remained in a first-place tie with East Ridge. The Raptors defeated Mounds View 75-60 on Friday.

Cretin-Derham Hall dropped to a conference record of 11-3.

The Royals lost an 89-73 game to Cretin-Derham Hall on Jan. 20 in the first meeting between the two teams. But this time the Royals were prepared.

"We came out ready this time," West said. "We came out with a plan and stuck to it. We stuck to our defensive plan well, too. And we scored points."

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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