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Crosstown basketball: With 80-69 win against Raptors, Woodbury warms up for Cretin

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Junior guard Jeremiah Codden scored 28 points and the Woodbury Royals continued their winning ways with an 80-69 victory at East Ridge Tuesday.

The game was tied at 44-all at the half, but the Royals gradually pulled away in the second half to earn the win. Woodbury outscored East Ridge 36-25 in the second half.

Woodbury improved to 15-2 on the season and kept very much in the hunt for a Suburban East Conference crown. Now 8-1 in the conference and a half game back of league-leading Cretin-Derham Hall, the Royals host the Raiders (13-3, 8-0) in a Friday evening showdown.

East Ridge slipped to 8-9 overall and 4-5 in the conference.

The Raptors got off to a fast start and leads of 20-14 and 27-18 with 8:36 to play in the first half. Woodbury then slowly but surely closed the gap the rest of the first half.

“We pressured them in the full court and they handled it really well in the first half,” said Woodbury head coach Kent Getzlaff. “But second half it got to them a little bit. I think the best thing we did tonight was kept our poise when East Ridge came out with a great game plan and kind of frustrated us a little bit. Maybe that’s a sign that we’re grown up a little bit because I think last year we would have really had a tough time in a hostile environment when we didn’t get off to the greatest of starts.”

It was the 11th straight win for the Royals, all by double digits. The Royals have been absolutely crushing opponents during that streak, winning by an average of 82-to-53.

East Ridge made the Royals work hard for the win Tuesday, however, playing an up-tempo game that was counter to their usual deliberate, defensive-oriented style.

East Ridge coach Paul Virgin said the Raptors didn’t make a decision to play more up-tempo than their usual style.

“We didn’t want to, we wanted to slow it down,” said Virgin. “In the first half things were going pretty good. But we needed to slow it down and we weren’t patient enough. That was our biggest issue. They got us to play their game a little bit more and we weren’t patient enough on offense. Overall U was happy with our effort and thought our kids played hard.”

That plan worked for a half and a little but more. The Raptors matched the Royals shot-for-shot in the first 21 minutes. East Ridge, using a balanced attack that spread the ball around, kept pace with the Royals.

“I thought we played well, we just didn’t execute in the second half offensively,” Virgin added. “We took some quick shots. But other than that I was very happy with what they were doing.”

During a key stretch about five minutes into the second half, Woodbury scored on back-to-back steals to take a 60-55 advantage. The Royals never trailed again. Tom Kelzenberg kept East Ridge in it offensively and his basket cut the Woodbury lead to 62-59 with 7:36 to play.

But Woodbury went on another spurt, this time a 10-4 run over the next four minutes and that proved to be decisive. Woodbury guards Coddon, Jace Klinkner and Michael Jones were effective at getting in the paint for close-in shots. At the other end, Woodbury’s 6-foot-5 center Nathan Bursch made the going tough when the Raptors tried to get the ball inside.

“Coddon was great on the offensive end,” said Getzlaff. “I thought that we did a decent job of defending in the post. In the second half (Jake) West did a really good job defensively in the last eight or nine minutes of the game. And we made just enough plays to win the game.”

The Royals also made hay at the free-throw line, making 18-of-22 shots, to 8—f-12 for the Raptors.

Klinkner added 13 points for the Royals and Jones scored 11.

“Rivalry games are always tough,” said Bursch. “Any game we get a “W” it’s a good win.”

Kelzenberg scored 21 points to lead East Ridge. Luke Coquyt had 15 points, Kyle Junker 11 and Zach Bennett 10.

East Ridge hosts Mounds View (13-2, 6-2) Friday, starting at 7:15 p.m.