Royals make a return trip to state

Prologue
To East Ridge for the section 4AAAA final between Stillwater and Woodbury.  Capacity crowd on hand for the game.  Well handled by the section staff, as organized as you'll see.  A late arrival back at Dacha de Czar as I had to make a visit to the great Wisconsin establishment Culver's on the way back.  Too late to the game for concessions so I had to make up for lost calories. 

Game Time
A nice start for Stillwater with Andrew Duxbury getting a layup off a Joe Quinn swat.  Matt Anderson then drives and Stillwater leads 7-2 at the 13:45 mark.  Woodbury looks troubled but Renard Suggs brings the Royals back.  He knocks down a pair of difficult 3s and then the long outlet to Diallo Powell for a jam before he buries another bomb to end the 11-0 run.  13-7 Woodbury at 11:38.  Stillwater counters with 10 in a row.  Anderson ends that with a nice stop and pop in the lane at the 6:10 mark.  But Woodbury pulls out their 2-3 like zone and that corrals the Ponies offense.  Add in 12 points from sniper Matt Ambriz the rest of the half and Woodbury goes to the break up 27-23.

Ambriz with the 1st bucket of the half for Woodbury to give him 14 of the last 16.  Suggs ends the 12-3 run to start the half with 8 in a row thanks to 2 more triples.  Timeout Stillwater down 39-26 with 12:40 left.  Stillwater has 1 more run left in them.  Andrew Duxbury with 3 from the weakside corner on the baseline out of bounds and a pair of free throws to start a 9-0 run.  Anderson's offensive board for 2 free throws ends a 9-0 Ponies run.  9:13 to play Stillwater back within 39-35.

At this point Woodbury sticks with their old 1-4 high offense and hasn't shown any of this year's DDM the entire half.  They use that for patience and they're all over the offensive glass.  That leads to some long and tiring possessions for the Stillwater defense.  It also leads to 5 minutes with nothing on the scoreboard.  Powell breaks that at the 4:20 mark with a bucket.  A quick succession of traded buckets and Stillwater is within 4.  But they give up 3 offensive boards on 1 possession and Woodbury retains it going to a timeout with 3:02 left.  Suggs cuts behind his defender and receives a short feed for 2 to push the lead to 6.  Stillwater turns it over on the next possession.  They have 3 fouls to give and Woodbury is killing the clock.   Andrew Duxbury makes 2 with 36.3 left to cut the lead to 6.  Stillwater forces a turnover but a long Sam Lagus 3 is no good and that's the last gasp.  Woodbury advances to state for the 2nd straight year with a 52-44 win.

Post Game
Andrew Duxbury leads the Ponies with 11 points but only 2 field goals.  Overall a miserable night for the entire offense.  Once Woodbury went to their unique 2-3 (where they'll have a wing cross thru the lane), Stillwater didn't have any answers.  Big gaps at the foul line went unexploited and they made no outside shots against it.  On defense, surprisingly they were outworked late in the second half on the offensive glass as Woodbury just played volleyball with it.  I think that those long defensive possessions wore the Ponies down.  Overall a great season for Stillwater at 22-7 and 3rd place in the Suburban East at 13-5.  Matt Anderson gives the Ponies a nice piece to build around for next season.

Woodbury improves to 25-4 and will be in the discussion for the 4 vs 5 game at state.  Renard Suggs with 5 tough 3s and 21 points to lead all scorers.  Matt Ambriz with 16, 14 of those in a stretch across halftime where he carried the offense.  2 great moves by coach Scott Swansson in the game.  First was the 2-3 zone that worked like magic.  Then the other move that really worked was the switch to 1-4 high offense that he's used for years.  That controlled the tempo and kept the pace slow.  While one might think that'd be to Stillwater's advantage, it didn't turn out that way.  Woodbury hammered the glass out of it and got much better looks than they were getting with their regular dribble drive offense.  One 1 3 pointer of offense combined from the benches in this one.

3 comments:

  1. Woodbury a possible 3 seed ahead of Edina? If Brainerd beats Elk River (who beat edina by 24)for 2nd time do they get seeded ahead of Edina with 7 losses ?

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  2. You bring up good points about Edina. They're hot but that loss to Woodbury and your point about Brainerd (or Elk River if they come out) makes it not so easy to put them at 3. I think people will forgive the Woodbury loss on the road early in the year when Edina started 0-4 and look more at the 22-4 record since.

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