By Ryan Schleicher – Sun FOCUS Newspapers
Conference tournament time is quickly approaching and wins are becoming more important with each passing day.
Columbia Heights (14-7; 8-4) continues to impress this season by picking up a much needed win against St. Francis (13-9; 5-8) after suffering a 22-point blowout against St. Louis Park.
Deon Sanstad took over the game by scoring a game high 30 points en route to an 80-67 victory. Dominique Galloway (12) and Colton Williams (14) were the only other players for Columbia Heights to crack double digits. Despite 20 points from Blake Moreno and four players in double digit points, St. Francis could not overcome the offensive attack of Columbia Heights in the second half.
A close game as teams hit the locker room for halftime, Columbia Heights only had a two-point margin over St. Francis. In the second half, St. Francis only played like the shell of itself from the first half, scoring five fewer points and without urgency on the defensive end. The Hylanders scored 42-second half points, outscoring St. Francis by 11, which all but sealed the deal for Columbia Heights.
Columbia Heights will host Chisago Lakes (10-13; 4-9) on Friday at 7 p.m. before traveling on the road for a 7 p.m. game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s (6-16; 4-8).
Knights lacking luster
With an opportunity to make a big dent in the North Suburban Conference, Irondale missed a chance to complete a slam dunk.
Irondale had its two toughest conference tests of the season so far when they were on the road for games against number one in conference team Robbinsdale-Cooper (17-5; 12-0) and second place St. Louis Park (18-4; 12-1). Against Robbinsdale-Cooper, in a battle of the number one (Rashad Vaughn) and number two (Jack Martinek) scorers in the North Suburban Conference Irondale struggled to get any offense going in the first half.
Going into halftime down by 13 points by only putting up 18 points, Irondale knew it needed to tighten things up offensively to give any sort of a chance for victory. In the second half, Irondale was much more efficient scoring 31 points, yet Robbinsdale-Cooper and, more importantly, Rashad Vaughn, could not be shut down. Robbinsdale-Cooper ended up getting the victory 63-49 with Vaughn scoring a game high 28 points. Martinek scored 14 points for Irondale who fell to the top place team in the North Suburban Conference who remains undefeated in conference play.
What happens to a team who just suffered a defeat to the best team in the conference? They get scheduled to go up against the second best team. Irondale quickly had to shake the defeat against Robbinsdale-Cooper and focus on St. Louis Park and the 18 points D.J. Pollard brings each game for them. Irondale played a much better first half that kept them in this one through halftime—only being down five (39-34) to open the second half.
Martinek shined bright as he had a game high 32 points, but that wasn’t enough to slow down the offensive firepower of St. Louis Park who put up 47-second half points en route to their 86-69 victory over Irondale.
With the losses, Irondale falls to a 6-7 in conference record, with a record of 10-12 overall. Irondale hosts Anoka on Friday at 7 p.m. at the gymnasium at Irondale High School and then travels across town for a Tuesday night match-up against conference rival Fridley—tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. for this contest as well.