Coon Rapids junior guard Chris Buckley set the single-game scoring record at Coon Rapids with 40 points, but it wasn’t enough to give the Cardinals (1-16) their first Northwest Suburban Conference win of the season in an 83-81 loss to Blaine Jan. 24.
The previous school record was 38 points and head coach Mike Ogorek pointed to more patience against the Bengals zone defense, improved shot selection and conversion down the stretch to get back into the contest. “We did a better job on the defensive glass in the second half,” he said.
The Bengals led by 10 points at the break before Buckley scored 23 points in the second half in the comeback bid. Besides Buckley’s scoring explosion, Jackson Bednar provided 11 points.
Blaine (9-9) countered with 31 points from Jason Travis, 20 points from Chris Novak and 11 from sophomore post Andy Leo.
The Bengals are 4-4 in January with two wins by three points or less and a signature 93-85 win against defending state finalist Park Center Jan. 3.
Travis led all scorers with 31 points against Park Center, while Chris Novak and Matt Barthels each had 12 points for the Bengals.
The Cardinals have lost seven straight games and were held to 50 points or less three times. The lowest was a 94-35 loss at Osseo Jan. 9.
Despite the one-sided outcome against the Orioles, freshman post Sam Carver had 10 points against one of the state’s top players in Ian Theisen. Carver was inserted into the starting five during the holiday break tournament at Norwood-Young America.
Coon Rapids nearly ended the extended losing streak Jan. 11 at Irondale, but the Knights scored the winning bucket with eight seconds left and won 70-67. Ogorek said second-chance points and losing the rebound game were keys in the loss.
Legacy (10-7) lost for only the second time in five games in a 72-62 non-conference loss at Barnum Jan. 25.
The loss came after an emotional 58-48 win over conference rival Southwest Christian Jan. 21. Nate Bursch had a game-high 17 points, Luke Johnson added 16 points and Luke Anderson had 10 points to build on a one-point lead at the break. The Lions went on a 30-21 run in the second half to secure the win.
Legacy posted back-to-back wins over Community of Peace (74-41, Jan. 18) and Southwest Christian (58-48, Jan. 21) after falling to a very strong New Life Academy squad 73-60, Jan. 14. New Life trails only unbeaten Maranatha in the MCAA standings at 6-1, while Legacy is 3-3, tied for fifth place with West Lutheran.
Andover lost eight of its last 10 games since Dec. 19.
A 78-62 win against Cambridge-Isanti came Jan. 3 and a 76-71 win against Centennial came Jan. 21. Both came on the home hardwood in Andover.
In between were losses to three of the state’s top programs including No. 4 (Class AAAA) Champlin Park (84-47, Jan. 9); Maple Grove (54-43, Jan. 14); fifth-ranked Armstrong (80-65, Jan. 17) and sixth-ranked Osseo (82-46, Jan. 24) to drop the Huskies record to a deceptive 5-10 overall and 4-8 to eighth place in the Northwest Suburban Conference.
The defending section champs still have several key contributors in place including guards Jake McNallan, Kyle Kettler and Connor Wilkie.
McNallan and Wilkie average more than 14 points per contest. McNallan, a junior, had a season-high 29 points against Cambridge. Wilkie, a senior, put up 20 points against Centennial, his third most this season, but Osseo kept him in check with seven points.
Kettler had 10 points against the Orioles. His 15 points against Armstrong was the fifth time he reached or passed that number this season. He posted 19 points in a 71-66 win over Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
PACT Charter’s two-point halftime lead wasn’t enough after Southwest Christian pulled off the narrow 54-52 win Jan. 24 to keep the Panthers in the cellar of the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association Conference.
PACT dropped to 0-7 in the conference and 6-9 overall, while Southwest improved to 3-5 in the conference and 6-8 overall.
Southwest’s Luke Johanson and PACT’s Danny Mooers both had 14 points to lead their respective sides.
Anoka swept the season series against Coon Rapids with a 72-64 win Jan. 21. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak as the Tornadoes improved to 2-12 overall this season.
Coon Rapids’ Buckley had a game-high 26 points and senior guard Timmy Nguyen had 15 points, but it wasn’t enough to hold back Anoka.
The Tornadoes trailed by five points at the half but went on a 38-25 second-half run to pull off the win. Jacob Grow led Anoka with 19 points, Torry Ledin added 17 points, Bryce Doppler added 14 and Dillon Hansen had 13 points.
St. Francis continued to roll through January with its fifth win of the month and fourth in a row after disposing of Rogers 86-63 in a Mississippi 8 Conference contest Jan. 25 behind 26 points from Jake Johnson and 17 points from Nate Svihel.
The win came four days after posting a 112-65 conference win over Princeton.
The season-high points total was an all-around team effort with 39 assists and 11 different scorers led by 34 points from Svihel, 19 points from Johnson and Bryce Kulsrud had 17 points.
The Saints defense generated 12 steals and blocked eight shots and the team out-rebounded Princeton 60-24. Guard Austin Carlson had 16 assists, eight rebounds, four blocks, two steals and eight points.
Forward Blake Moreno led the way with 16 rebounds, six assists and seven points.
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