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Boys Basketball: Wingers fly away from Faribault

Red Wing’s Isaac Toivonen fades away for two points during the Wingers’ 71-49 victory over Faribault Friday evening. Toivonen and Ben Miller each scored 22 points for Red Wing, who will play Byron at 2 p.m. Saturday in the championship game of the Red Wing High School Tip-Off Tournament. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Red Wing’s Ben Miller watches for a screen during the Wingers’ 71-49 win over Faribault Friday night. Miller scored 22 points, and held the Falcons Nate Emgee (55) to seven points in the second half. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

Despite a 35-minute late start, and a somewhat sloppy first half, the Red Wing boys basketball team feels good about its first game of the season, a 71-49 romp over Faribault in Friday’s Red Wing High School Tip-Off Tournament.

“I feel a lot better about the second half,” said Red Wing head coach Doug Toivonen. “The first half, you have to give Nate Emgee a lot of credit, he really put his team on his back and he knocked down some shots. A couple times we left him open, and a couple times he just hit tough shots. He really kept them in the game.

“And like I heard our guys saying, I think a lot of it came down in the second half that we really still had fresh legs. And I think they had really gone hard in that first half, and did everything they could to keep it close. And all it took was a two or three minute run to turn a 10-point lead into a 20-point lead.”

Emgee, Faribault’s lone senior, hit four 3-pointers in the first half. But Ben Miller nearly matched Emgee’s 18 first-half points, carrying the load for the Red Wing offense with 17 points.

“My teammates did a great job of passing,” Miller said. “I know Ty (Buck) got me a couple of assists right away off fast breaks and I was just there to score. It was kind of luck, I guess.”

Some of it may have been fortunate, but Miller also pounded the offensive glass early on, at one point scoring eight-straight points for the Wingers.

“It was just some hustle plays to get the ball,” Miller said.

Miller’s run opened up a lead that Red Wing had just taken on an Isaac Toivonen 3-pointer. Once Miller’s streak ended, the Wingers led 20-11, and never looked back.

Isaac Toivonen wasn’t even sure he would be able to suit up for the game as he was still trying to overcome a shoulder injury that occurred during the last regular season game of the football season. But play he did, matching Miller’s team-high 22 points.

“I’m really glad I got to play today. I almost didn’t get cleared yesterday,” Isaac Toivonen said. “But it’s good to get it out of the way. It’s nice having two home games to start off and having a nice little crowd there, having your fans supporting you.”

While Miller added five points in the second half, Isaac Toivonen went off for 12, including a 3-pointer that pushed the Wingers lead back to double digits at 47-35.

“We moved the ball well,” Isaac Toivonen said. “It’s not just two guys. It’s not just three guys. It’s the whole team. Like coach said, we have eight, nine guys. We have a lot of depth this year. When they were gasping for breath at the end, we have two or three more guys than they do. And that’s really a nice thing to have.”

That depth was never more apparent than early in the second half. Red Wing went on a 21-7 run to open the half, shutting down Emgee in the process. Emgee, who ended with a game-high 25 points, was able to hit just one 3-pointer in the second half as the Wingers upped the pressure.

“I think it was great, overall team defense,” Miller said. “We knew where he was, and we played help defense and got our hand up when he shot.”

While Miller and Isaac Toivonen were the offensive stars of the game, eight different Wingers put points in the scorebook, including Jon Sevlie (nine points), Travis Toivonen (six) and Buck (five).

The win moves Red Wing to 1-0 on the season, and into a Tip-Off championship game against Byron, who beat Park 67-58 earlier Friday.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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