Sherman Column: Edina boys control their destiny in Lake basketball race
There’s a new leader in Lake Conference boys basketball this week following Edina’s 66-63 overtime victory over Hopkins.
The Edina Hornets are on top of the standings for the first time since the mid-1990s with a 3-1 record. Hopkins and Minnetonka are 3-2.
“We’re a half game up on Hopkins and Minnetonka,” said Hornet head coach Pat Dorsey. “That means something but not a whole lot … we still have a lot of work to do. Mainly, we need to stay focused and stay disciplined.”
Edina’s victory over Hopkins was a team effort.
Senior guard Graham Woodward, the Lake’s leading scorer, boosted Edina’s chances with 24 points. Senior Reggie Lynch, Edina’s 6-foot-11 center, had a big night with 19 points.
Hornet senior forwards Mark “Stavro” Handberg and Dane Teuteberg were the unsung heroes. Handberg scored 10 points and pulled down 12 rebounds while Teuteberg scored six points and made key free throws in the second half.
“Graham controlled the tempo,” said Dorsey. “It’s always tough against Hopkins because their kids believe they are going to win every game, and they usually do.”
The difference-maker this year is Lynch. Last season he was able to hold his own. This year he is able to do what he wants.
“He controlled the lane and was able to finish shots inside,” said Dorsey. “Dane Teuteberg did a lot of things that night that don’t show up in a box score. He got some rebounds and loose balls and he capitalized on his opportunities.”
Dorsey said Ben Boone’s defense was a factor.
“Ben guarded Jake Wright [Hopkins’ No. 1 shooting threat],” said Dorsey. “When we were ahead by 3 on Hopkins’ last possession in overtime, everyone in the gym, including the custodian, knew the ball was going to Wright. Ben and his brother Nick double-teamed him, and he couldn’t get the ball, so Hopkins settled for an off-balance shot that wasn’t close. I don’t think Wright had an open shot all night when Ben was guarding him.”
The victory over Hopkins ended 17 years of frustration and approximately 40 straight losses to the Royals. The last time Edina had beaten Hopkins was during the 1995-96 when Edina Hall-of-Famer Greg Buth was the leading scorer.
It’s hard to find a more consistent coach than Edina High girls basketball mentor Matt Nilsen.
In his first five seasons as head coach, Nilsen has gone over the 20-win mark four times. The benchmark was last season’s school-record 27 victories.
His 20th win of 2012-13 came last week when the Hornets squelched Blaine 72-35 in a non-conference game at Blaine High.
Scoring was well distributed that night.
Edina’s All-State guard M.C. McGrory showed the way with 15 points. Madeline Rodriguez scored 10 points, Hailey Merrill had nine and Jill Morton and Annika Jank each had eight.
Jank, an eighth-grader, is gaining momentum and could be a secret weapon for the playoffs.
“Jenny Johnson was head coach when I started here as an assistant,” said Nilsen. “She set the bar pretty high, and she left the program in great shape.”
While he has been highly successful in Edina, Nilsen still has one puzzle to solve – Hopkins.
The Royals, who stand 23-1 this season, pounded Edina 79-46 in a Lake Conference showdown Feb. 12. Edina could have moved into a tie for first in the Lake with a win that night, but Nia Coffey was having none of that.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard scored 22 points in the first half on the way to a 28-point game.
Hopkins played like a wrecking ball crashing against the side of a building, or so it seemed. Edina trailed 46-17 at the half and never got back in the ballgame.
“To beat Hopkins, you have to shoot the ball incredibly well,” said Nilsen. “The one team that beat them this season was Centennial, and one of their girls made nine three-pointers.”
During the course of a high school game, each team is allotted five timeouts. Nilsen wishes he would have had more in the Hopkins game. But even a few extra timeouts wouldn’t have stemmed the tide.
“At one point, I turned to [assistant coach] Jaime Gaard and asked, ‘Got any suggestions?’” Nilsen recalled. “She said, ‘Why don’t you take a timeout?’”