Boys Basketball: Wingers turn the pageJanuary proved to be a difficult month for the Red Wing boys basketball team as the Wingers went 2-5, losing all five games by 10 points or less and falling out of the top 10 rankings in Class 3A.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
January proved to be a difficult month for the Red Wing boys basketball team as the Wingers went 2-5, losing all five games by 10 points or less and falling out of the top 10 rankings in Class 3A.
As the calendar moved to February, Red Wing started on a good note Friday by coasting to a 70-54 blowout victory over Chaska at home.
“This was kind of a breath of fresh air for us,” Wingers head coach Doug Toivonen said. “January was a tough month for us. … The kids came out with a lot of energy tonight and we played sharp.”
Ty Buck was a big reason for Red Wing’s success against the Hawks, as the sophomore finished with a game-high 19 points and seven rebounds. Buck used his size and a deft touch inside the paint to get the Wingers out of their recent slump.
“Coach said to get it inside the paint and bang a little bit and that’s what we did,” Buck said. “Before the game, coach really focused on our intensity … and I think it made a difference in the second half.”
“He’s a load in the post,” Toivonen said of Buck. “He really played under control. He didn’t force as much as he has lately.”
Red Wing (9-8, 2-5 Missota) led 31-25 at halftime after Chaska went on a 12-4 run to close out the opening half. But coming out of the break, the Wingers used a 14-0 run, including a steal and score by Jack Leurquin on the first play after the break, to build an insurmountable lead as the Hawks scored just one basket in its first 15 possessions of the second half.
“At half, we talked about creating some space,” Toivonen said. “We haven’t seen a lot of man-to-man. We’ve seen a lot of zones and I think it just took our kids a little while. I thought we had some great possessions in the second half.”
Red Wing’s lead ballooned to 25 points on two occasions in the second half and never faced a challenge after halftime. The Wingers led 53-28 with 9 minutes, 4 seconds remaining and didn’t give many open looks to the Hawks in the victory. Red Wing also held a 31-17 rebounding edge Friday night.
“We forced them into some tough shots,” Toivonen said. “We took some charges tonight. I thought we played really physical tonight and really got after it on the boards.”
Isaac Toivonen had 15 points and six rebounds for the Wingers, while Jon Sevlie finished with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists in the win.
Chaska was led by Gavin Bjorklund with 18 points, and Jacob Hansen finished with 15 points. The Hawks shot 41 percent from the field.
Friday’s victory was a nice change for Red Wing, but the Wingers’ eight losses this season have all come by 12 points or less. While Friday’s game didn’t provide an opportunity to close out a tight game, Red Wing needs to forget about those struggles moving forward, Buck said.
“It gets really frustrating obviously,” he said of not finishing games. “But we got to forget all our past games. From now on, we’ve got to come out with that intensity and show we’re ready to play from the start. We just got to keep taking steps forward.”
Red Wing plays again Monday at home against Kasson-Mantorville.