East Ridge boys basketball: Raptors beat Woodbury, lose Ishola
East Ridge took round No. 1.
Backed by a staunch defensive effort, East Ridge built a 30-19 halftime lead over Woodbury and held on for the Suburban East Conference win.
“Our first-half defense was awesome,” East Ridge head coach Paul Virgin said. “I was pleased with how we talked to each other. The second half was just as good until the eight minute mark, when we had some mental lapses. Woodbury is too good not to make us pay for them.”
East Ridge (10-2; 5-0 SEC) shot 46 percent from the floor in the game, including going 5-of-13 from 3-point land. The Raptors also shot 81 percent from the free-throw line.
East Ridge junior guard Sid Tomes led all players with 21 points, to go along with six rebounds and four assists, while senior guard Jake Knupp recorded 17 points for the Raptors. Sophomore forward Seth Green came off the bench to score 15 points and gather eight rebounds for East Ridge.
Green received an increased workload filling in for East Ridge senior Brian Ishola, who is out for the season with a torn ACL in his knee. Into the game, Ishola led the Raptors in scoring and rebounding at 15.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
“Seth Green had a great game and he is just starting to come in to his own on the basketball court,” Virgin said. “He is a relentless rebounder and is the best pure athlete on the floor in our conference. He was huge for us.”
The win was the Raptors’ ninth-straight victory and gave East Ridge a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series.
“We’ll really miss Brian Ishola,” Virgin said. “He does a lot of nice things for us. I was worried about how we would react without the best player in the conference playing for us anymore but we all stepped up.”
Woodbury (7-5; 3-2 SEC) kept things close with East Ridge late into the game.
Woodbury made momentary second-half surges to twice close the gap to within four points, but the Raptors’ stingy defense and accuracy from the free-throw line never allowed the Royals to draw closer.
Woodbury shot just 31 percent from the floor and less than 8 percent on its 3-pointers.
“We’re not going to win games shooting 2-for-20 from the 3-point line,” Woodbury head coach Scott Swansson said.
Woodbury senior Isaiah Codden was the Royals’ leading scorer with 18 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Fellow senior guard Matt Ambriz had an uncharacteristically cold shooting night, going 5-for-23 from the field, finishing with 16 points for Woodbury.
“He’s a way better shooter than that,” Swansson said of Ambriz, one of Minnesota’s top scorers in Class 4A. “They just weren’t falling.”
Prior to the win over Woodbury, East Ridge won the championship title at a tournament at Bethel University, beating Eagan 79-69 and Mahtomedi 50-40 on Dec. 27 and 28, respectively.
Knupp and Ryan Keenan led the way against Eagan. Knupp had a game-high 22 points and eight assists without a turnover and Keenan, a senior center, had his best game of the year, totaling 14 points to go along with nine rebounds and six blocks.
In the win over Mahtomedi, Tomes had a team-high 16 points, going 12-for-15 from the free-throw line, to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Parker Moquist added 11 points, going 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line and Knupp chipped in 10 points.
The Raptors tip off with White Bear Lake on Friday at home.
“We have a tough week ahead,” Virgin said. “We are just going to take them one at a time and try to improve each day by developing good habits.”