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East Ridge boys basketball: Raptors eye Suburban East Conference

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The East Ridge boys basketball team kept up its winning ways with a pair of Suburban East Conference victories last week.

East Ridge, which has moved up to seventh in the state rankings in Class AAAA, beat Roseville 80-78 on Tuesday at home and took down White Bear Lake 74-64 on the road Friday.

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The Raptors, now on a six-game win streak, improved to 20-4 overall and 14-2 in the SEC with the wins.

East Ridge opened up a 39-32 lead on Roseville (13-11; 10-6 SEC) in the first half then held on for the 8-point victory. It was the Raptors’ second win over Roseville in six days.

“I was worried playing a good team like Roseville so close together but our guys found a way to win,” East Ridge head coach Paul Virgin said.

A key to the win was East Ridge’s work from the free-throw line. The Raptors went 41-of-59 from the charity stripe in the game.

“This game was very physical,” Virgin said. “We really attacked their defense and it paid off at the line.”

East Ridge junior guard Sid Tomes went off for 26 points, including going 16-of-18 from the free-throw line and senior Jake Knupp had 21 points and five assists. Also, junior center Freddie Gillespie came up big off the bench with 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

“Our inside game, especially Freddie Gillespie, was fantastic,” Virgin said. “The way he is improving we are starting to expect that of him. He is going to be a force for us down the stretch. We fouled out their big guys early and just kept scoring inside. I loved how tough inside we are becoming.”

East Ridge won another physical contest with White Bear Lake three nights later.

The Raptors went 21-for-33 from the free-throw line in the 10-point win over the Bears (11-13; 7-9 SEC). East Ridge went up by four points, 35-31, at the half then outscored White Bear Lake 39-33 in the second half.

“I couldn’t tell if White Bear wanted to play football or basketball,” Virgin said. “This was by far the most physical game we have had to play this year. Once again we took it inside for success.”

Tomes filled the stat sheet for the Raptors in the win with a game-high 28 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

“Sid was awesome,” Virgin said. “People are just starting to see how good he is.”

Celebrating his 16th birthday that night, East Ridge sophomore Seth Green also had a big game with 18 points and six rebounds. Green was a highly efficient 6-for-7 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line.

“Seth Green was a man that night and a huge force in the paint,” Virgin said. “He really sparked us offensively.”

Also, Knupp neared a triple-double with nine points, six rebounds and 11 assists.

“Jake handled their physical play very well,” Virgin said. “He was continually pushed and fouled.”

East Ridge put itself in position for a Suburban East Conference championship title. With win over No. 6-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall (20-4; 14-2 SEC) on Tuesday and a victory over Stillwater (11-13; 7-9 SEC), the conference crown goes to the Raptors.

“Our guys have worked very hard for this opportunity and we hope we give our last two opponents our best effort,” Virgin said.

—Patrick Johnson

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Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
(651) 319-4505
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