by Jason Olson
Coon Rapids opened 2012 with a 73-44 loss at crosstown and Northwest Suburban Conference rival Blaine Jan. 3.
The Bengals (5-4) quickly jumped out to an 18-0 run and made it 31-8 in the first half before heading for the locker room with a 38-17 lead.
Blaine seniors Alex Cappard and Duke Anyanwu shared the game-high mark with 17 points each, while Josh Limberg had 12 points and Tanner Schumacher added 10 points.
The Bengals’ diverse scoring is something in which coach Mark Arzdorf takes pride. “We don’t need to rely on that one 20-points-a-night guy,” he said. “We’re capable of that, but we don’t rely on it. If one guy has an off night we have three of four others who will be able to pick him up and our guys play unselfishly, which we like.”
Arzdorf said that unselfishness was something the team learned early in the season. “They don’t care about how many points they scored as long as the team has success,” he said. “That’s what matters to us. I think we’ve put that behind us. They’ve realized we only going to go as far as the 18 guys take us, not just one or two individuals.”
Schumacher, Cappard, Limberg and Anyanwu each averaged more than 12 points per game with Schumacher leading the way with 14 points per contest.
Limberg has come off the bench for Blaine to provide some high-energy play. “Josh’s as good as any of our starters and it’s nice to have Josh’s ability to put the ball in the hoop,” Arzdorf said. “He’s deceptive and he sneaks up on people with his inside-outside game. He’s made a lot of improvements and it’s nice to have good players coming off the bench.”
Just as much pride goes into the defense for Blaine as well. The Bengals limited Chisago Lakes to 30 points in a holiday tournament using a strictly full court man-to-man defense.
“I think what makes our defense pretty solid is the kids are generally on the same page as a team defense and they also really enjoy getting after people on the defensive end,” Arzdorf said. “Ryan Hobbs and Trent Hensler are examples of players that are not going to always make the highlight plays but are always in the right spot defensively and allow us to put some heat on in other areas.”
Coon Rapids played for the first time since an 86-71 loss to Anoka Dec. 20 and appeared to be a step behind the Bengals from the start with an all new set of starters.
One reason for the sluggish start by Coon Rapids came from the suspension of two starters EdVonte and EdDarle Hibbler, who missed two practices during the holiday break from school.
“It handicapped us a lot because we had people who couldn’t commit themselves to practice so we played with the guys who could commit,” Cardinals coach Ryan Green said as his team fell to 3-4 overall. “We’re rusty, but not because of no games. We just couldn’t show up to practice and hopefully it will be fine now. If it continues to be an issue, we’ll continue to play with the guys we have been, the guys we had tonight.”
One of those who stood out that doesn’t get a lot of regular playing time was senior guard Amos Duckworth, who had nine points, while senior Pierre Roddy led the way with 12 points. Another player who stood out for Green was sophomore Mitchell Zimmerman. “Amos and Mitch played very well for us tonight and they both proved that they belong on the varsity floor for some minutes,” Green said.
Roddy began the second half with a nice three-point basket and then started to match the Bengals on shots. “When you’re down by 20 points, that’s something you cannot do,” Green said as the Cardinals got away from defensive responsabilities as six players scored more than four points for Coon Rapids. “So he’s fine on the offensive end, he just needed to play better on the defensive end.”
Defense hasn’t been a huge issue for the Cardinals who won three games before the new year for the first time in a number of seasons. “We haven’t played defense very well over the last two games,” he said.
Bengals capture Chisago Lakes Tourney
Blaine has a successful holiday break bringing home the championship trophy from the Chisago Lakes Tournament.
The Bengals beat St. Paul Highland Park in the championship game 76-68 Dec. 30 by way of a 50-36 second-half outburst.
Duke Anywanu led Blaine with 20 points and Alex Cappard had 18 points in the win.
Blaine’s defense held Chisago Lakes in check, while the Bengals offense found its shooting form in an 85-30 win in the first round Dec. 29. Arzdorf said the way the defense played against the Wildcats was what impressed him the most. “Our defense was much improved and that was the key Friday night,” he said.
The Bengals took a 54-21 lead at the half before the Wildcats were outscored 31-9 in the second half. Josh Limberg had a game-high 20 points while Schumacher and Cappard each had 16 points.