Woodbury's Royals made the clutch plays down the stretch to knock off rival Park in a dynamic girls basketball game Friday, Jan. 5. The visiting Royals scored a gritty 45-42 victory at Park for their best win of the season. For Park it was a stunning home-court loss and an early-season blow to their hopes of winning a Suburban East Conference basketball title.
Park went into the Bemidji Invite allowing an average of just 42.7 points a game. The Wolfpack girls did the defense even better Wednesday and Thursday, roughing up Detroit Lakes and host Bemidji to improve to 10-1 on the season. Park overwhelmed Detroit Lake 65-30 Wednesday in the tournament opener, then dropped Bemidji 42-28 in the finale Thursday.
The first time these two teams met this season — a 58-55 Woodbury win back on Dec. 8—it was the Royals who made the clutch plays down the stretch. Saturday night it was Apple Valley's turn. Apple Valley went on an 11-2 run over the final four and a half minutes to edge the Woodbury Royals 47-45 in the consolation championship of the 2017 Roseville Holiday Girls basketball tournament. Apple Valley's 6-3 junior forward Mykel Parham drained a short jump shot at the buzzer to break a 45-all tie and give the Eagles the win.
It was a tough finish to a pretty good tournament for the Woodbury Royals Saturday. Woodbury skated in with a modest 1-7 record, but won two of three games in the tournament. Unfortunately for the Royals, the closing game, a 4-0 loss to host South St. Paul, was a disappointing end at Doug Woog Arena in South St. Paul. But Woodbury played well in victories in Games 1 and 2 in the South St. Paul Premier Tournament, topping St. Paul Johnson 4-1 in the opener and then edging Eagan 2-1 in the semifinals.
For the first eight minutes of the game, the question was if New Life Academy would score. With six minutes to play the question was whether New Life could hang on for the win. And in what turned out to be a game of wild swings, host Park rallied to escape the visiting Eagles by a 56-49 count in a non-conference boys basketball matchup Friday, Dec. 15.
Park bounced back from its first loss of the season — a 68-57 defeat at fifth-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall Tuesday, Dec. 12 — but it took the Wolfpack a while to get rolling on Saturday afternoon. Park led visiting Henry Sibley just 26-25 at the half, but dominated the second half for a 66-55 non-conference victory. It was Park's sixth win in seven games so far this season. The Wolfpack tightened up the defense and ran their offense much better in the second half to pull away from the visitors.
New East Ridge gymnastics head coach Caroline Urgo has inherited a situation made in most coaches' dreams. The Raptors are loaded, again, with eight of the top nine returning from the team which won the Class 2A, Section 3 title and placed seventh in the state last season. It was the second straight top-seven finish at state for the East Ridge team, which finished third two seasons ago under the leadership of all-around stars Megan Trollen and Wren Anderson. The Raptors have their sights set on more section and state honors this time around.
It will be a mixture of veterans and newcomers for the Park gymnastics team this season. Seven gymnasts are back for the Wolfpack and will be joined by five newcomers. Returning to the Wolfpack are veteran seniors Alena Abrahamson, Sydne Blahnik, juniors Mandy Hafner and Genny Tester, and sophomore Rachel Williamson. "Hopefully we'll be stronger than we were last year," Park head coach Ali Flaata said. "That's what I'm anticipating. But you never know based on the other teams that we're competing against."
Down 20-12 at the half, the Park Wolfpack flipped the switch in the second half and took home a 43-35 win over host Eagan in the season opener Tuesday. Senior post player Delaney Young scored 14 points and senior guard Taylor Johnson added 10 — all after intermission — to key the Park offense.
Lakeville South had a little too much of everything for the host East Ridge in a 62-33 girls' basketball decision Friday. The Cougars slapped a full-court press on the inexperienced Raptors, which created a score of turnovers and led to easy baskets for the visitors. Even when the Raptors got the ball in the half court, the defensive-minded Cougars mostly forced bad shots.