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SAVHS looking to turn a corner
With only two seniors in the starting lineup, the St. Anthony Village High School boys basketball team has suffered through some growing pains this season. That fact is evident in the Huskies’ record, which prior to last Friday included only one win.
St. Anthony was able to double its win total with a come-from-behind victory over a conference rival on Friday and that win had first-year head coach Chris Hergenrader excited about the future.
“It’s going to be exciting to see how they react,” said Hergenrader. “It’s a learning year for them. They took a big step tonight and let’s see if they can take another one on Tuesday.”
St. Anthony entered the home game against Concordia Academy saddled with an 11-game losing streak that followed a season-opening victory over St. Paul Harding. The Huskies used a strong second half to keep that streak from reaching a dozen.
Concordia, which had lost four straight coming into Friday, led by as many as 10 in the first half and appeared poised to blow the game open early in the second half. An 8-3 run to open the second half put the Beacons up by 12 and forced Hergenrader to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, the teams traded four baskets before St. Anthony went on a 15-2 run to take a 47-46 lead with 6:46 to play. The lead changed hands a half-dozen times until the final two minutes. Trailing by three, St. Anthony got a huge three-pointer from senior Noah Bluth.
Concordia retook the lead on a free throw but the final minute of game turned into the Cole Richmond show. The sophomore point guard who started the season as a bench player on the junior varsity put St. Anthony ahead for good with a layup with a minute on the clock. He then made the play of the game by diving for a loose ball at midcourt and calling a timeout.
Out of that timeout, Richmond was fouled and drained two free throws to put the Huskies up by three. St. Anthony went on to win 59-55.
“What focus to be able, in that pressure situation for a kid that wasn’t starting on JV, to come up and nail two free throws,” Hergenrader said. “That was a turner for us.”
The victory wasn’t totally unexpected for Hergenrader and he was proud of the way his team fought back, something it was unable to do much this season.
“We tried to survive the first half and see what happens in the second half,” said Hergenrader. “The boys haven’t been in that situation very often where they’re still in a game because we’ve been struggling quite a bit. But we saw very good practices and felt they were getting close. And then they got a feeling of what it meant to stand up and not wilt. It was fun to see.”
Hergenrader said the team had also shown some signs of improvement in its previous two games.
“The last two games you could see it,” Hergenrader said. “We played Becker, a big, physical team, in the Princeton tournament and we beat them in the second half. We felt we competed. North St. Paul was a close game in the second half. We were down by four with nine minutes left but the difference there was we went backwards. The boys got soft and they know it.”
Against Concordia, the Huskies didn’t go soft, especially on the defensive boards.
“This time it was just the opposite,” Hergenrader said. “They turned around and said, ‘Nope, not happening again.’ The effort went up, the hustle went up. Loose ball diving went up. That’s what makes the difference. Possessions count at the end of the game.”
Junior Ben Peterson led the rebounding charge with a dozen and St. Anthony got eight boards from sophomore Nick Peterson and Bluth added six.
“Earlier in the year, we would’ve had two, three and two but we’ve been working really hard on that in practice and telling the boys you have to end possessions by finishing it with rebounding,” Hergenrader said. “We’re not where we need to be rebounding-wise but this was our best game of the season.”
Ben Peterson also led St. Anthony in scoring with 19 points while Bluth added 16 and Nick Peterson had 14.
St. Anthony will try and build on the momentum from the victory in its two games this week. The Huskies host Minneapolis Southwest in a non-conference game on Tuesday before returning to Tri-Metro Conference play on Friday when St. Agnes pays a visit.
“Now what are you going to do?” said Hergenrader. ìAre you going to rest on this? Or are we going to say, ‘You know what, now let’s go get another one. Let’s start getting some momentum going.’”
Like their male counterparts, the St. Anthony girls basketball team also struggled out of the gate but of late have gone on a run. The Huskies’ 54-38 victory over Concordia Academy on Friday ran their winning streak to four games.
Prior to the streak, St. Anthony had won just once in its first 11 games.
St. Anthony started its winning ways with a four-point victory over Spring Lake Park in the final round of the Roseville holiday tournament. Out of the holiday break, the Huskies edged Irondale by five points and drilled Blake by 25.
That led up to the meeting with Concordia, which had lost just twice and was unbeaten in Tri-Metro Conference action. That didnít matter as St. Anthony went to Concordia and came away with a 54-38 victory.
Kelly Lawson, St. Anthony’s leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, led the Huskies with 16 points. Breanna Bergquist added 11 and Chloe Ginter also reached double figures with 10.
St. Anthony puts its streak on the line with a pair of games this week. The Huskies host Mounds Park Academy on Tuesday and travels to St. Agnes on Friday.
Brian Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.
Tri-Metro Conference boys basketball standings
|St. Croix Lutheran||1-1||8-4||1|
|St. Paul Academy||1-2||9-3||1 1/2|
|St. Anthony Village||1-2||2-11||1 1/2|
|St. Agnes||0-1||3-9||1 1/|
Tri-Metro Conference girls basketball standings
|St. Croix Lutheran||7-3||1/2|
|St. Anthony Village||3-1||5-10||1/2|
|Providence Academy||1-3||3-10||2 1/2|
|St. Paul Academy||0-3||6-4||3|
|Mounds Park Academy||0-3||4-5||3|