Boys Basketball: Wingers win home tournament
For the first time since 2007, Red Wing has claimed its own season-opening tournament title. With a 63-51 victory over Byron, the Wingers will start the season 2-0 since that 2007 season that saw Red Wing top Goodhue and Zumbrota-Mazeppa.
This year, the Wingers opened the tournament with a fourth-straight season-opening win over Faribault. But unlike the past four years, Red Wing responded with a victory in the second game as well. And the Wingers did it in much the same fashion as they did against Faribault.
“Very similar to (Friday),” said Red Wing head coach Doug Toivonen. “I think if you ask any coach, whenever you play back-to-back games early in the year, the energy isn’t as high. It’s just a little bit different trying to get into the game. I think our kids did a really good job. We were almost trying too hard at times in the first half.”
Though the Wingers never trailed, there was a chance to put Byron in a deep hole in the first 10 minutes. Red Wing senior Ty Buck opened the game with a 3-pointer, then hit another field goal for a quick five points. Ben Miller also hit two early baskets before Buck hit another 3-pointer.
But turnovers kept the Bears in the game early as Buster Meyer scored 10 of Byron’s first dozen points.
After Miller hit two free throws to push the Wingers’ lead to 20-12, the offense started to open up.
Jon Selvie, Isaac Toivonen and Travis Toivonen each recorded points on the next few trips down the floor, giving Red Wing a double-digit lead that would shrink to seven before the half.
But, like game one against Faribault, the second half opened with the Wingers able to stretch the lead into an area that the opponent could not reach.
“In the second half, we came out, put on a little spurt, and got ahead by 15 and felt really comfortable at that point. We were playing good (defense). And I thought, similar to yesterday, they didn’t have as many scorers, and once we centered in on who their scorers were, we were able to slow them down a little bit and make it tougher for them to score,” Toivonen said.
The run was sparked by Buck, who hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the final 18 minutes. After Ben Munson and Selvie hit for a 2-pointer and a 3-pointer, respectively, Buck got the ball back and all but put the game away with two more 3-pointers and a pair of free throws after a he drew contact driving the lane.
“That’s going to be one of the strengths of our teams is having different guys step up,” Toivonen said. “I thought Ty played great yesterday even though he didn’t have a lot of points. Today, we needed him to hit some shots and he was able to step up in the second half and do that.”
Buck ended with 22 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Miller (11 points), Sevlie (10) and Travis Toivonen (10) also ended up in double figures. Buck, who was three of nine from behind the arc, added three assists and two blocks to complement his scoring. Miller also had three assists while Alex Holm dished out four. Miller had five rebounds, four offensive, to lead the team.
With a pair of wins to open the new season, the Wingers, who have been practicing or playing 12 of the last 13 days, will encounter a rare sight next week: some time off.
“I’m happy about the holiday week next week,” Toivonen said. “We have a Monday practice and a Tuesday game, so we’re really right after it. But with the holiday weekend, we’ll get a little bit of a break. I feel that we’ll have gone hard for two-and-a-half weeks, and then be able rejuvenate a little bit and get Thanksgiving off.”
That Tuesday game, at Albert Lea, will be the only competition until Dec. 3 when Ellsworth comes across the river for Red Wing’s third home game of the season. The Wingers and Panthers will tip off at 7:30 p.m.