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East Ridge girls basketball: Raptors reign supreme in win over Woodbury

East Ridge sophomore Taylor Pershe drives to the basket in the Raptors’ 59-37 win over Woodbury on Friday, Jan. 3, at East Ridge High School. (Bulletin photo by Patrick Johnson) 1 / 2
East Ridge’s McKenna Karras and Woodbury’s Kalley Hakes battle for a rebound. East Ridge won the game 59-37. (Bulletin photo by Patrick Johnson) 2 / 2

The East Ridge girls basketball team showed its supremacy in its first matchup of the year with rival Woodbury.

In the Woodbury derby, East Ridge didn’t give the Royals much of a chance, opening up a 36-16 halftime lead on the way to a 59-37 victory on Friday, Jan. 3, at East Ridge High School.

The win was just the second by East Ridge over Woodbury, which entered the game leading the all-time series 6-1 after winning both head-to-head matchups last season.

“It’s exciting,” East Ridge junior guard Amanda Robinson said. “It’s very special. It’s our seniors’ last year, it’s our home court and they’re our rivals. We had to beat them.”

East Ridge, which led by as many as 25 points in the game, opened up a 23-11 lead early. Back-to-back baskets by East Ridge senior Jamie Swanson and a 3-pointer by sophomore center Taylor Pershe made it a 30-11 game with 4 minutes, 54 seconds remaining in the first half. Another 3-pointer by Swanson gave East Ridge a 33-11 lead and forced a Woodbury timeout.

“We finally knocked down some threes,” Wurm said. “I thought that was huge and it gave us some momentum. Anytime you get a little beat of a lead you tend to be able to relax a little more and play with less pressure.”

In the second half, East Ridge freshman guard Emma Stoehr hit a pair of free throws and Swanson went 1-for-2 from the line to put the Raptors up 45-20 with 9:50 left on the game clock. With 4:40 remaining in the game, a 3-pointer from Woodbury freshman guard Mary Reed cut the Raptors lead to 18 points, 48-30, but that’s as close as the Royals would get the rest of the way.

“We played really well I think,” Robinson aid. “We did what we needed to do. We stopped their cuts and didn’t let them get easy baskets. I think we’re working well together and that’s helping us be a better team. I think we’re going to do good things this season.”

East Ridge hadn’t played since falling 66-34 to Forest Lake on Friday, Dec. 20, but practiced consistently during the break.

“Coming out of the holiday vacation you never know what you’re going to get,” Wurm said. “The girls sacrificed a lot coming in and working hard. I told them the team that was going to win the game was going to be the team that mentally and physically prepared themselves better and we came out on top.”

Swanson led all scorers with 18 points, while Stoehr scored 11 points and Mariah Sexe chipped in nine points. For Woodbury, which was playing without standout freshman Cecile Kieger, junior Kayla Bilski led the way with a team-high nine points. Freshman forward Ellie Kriebich and junior guard Madi Youchum each chipped in seven points for the Royals.

East Ridge had a size advantage in the game and used it to its advantage.

“I thought the girls did a great job of playing inside-out and creating perimeter shots off of going inside, Wurm said. “That’s something we’ve tried to stress all season. They’re a very active team, so that’s one of the things we emphasized, going inside more and getting rebounds.”

Next, Woodbury heads to St. Paul to tip off with Cretin-Derham Hall and East Ridge is at White Bear Lake.

“We’re only as good as our next game,” Wurm said. “We’ll enjoy this one and learn from it. We’re still working to get better all the time. It’s about execution, finishing and improving.”

-Patrick Johnson

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.
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