St. Anthony boys basketball team surging

After back-to-back single-digit win seasons, the St. Anthony Village High School boys basketball team had a breakout season a year ago as it won 19 games. The Huskies are proving this year that 2015-16 wasn’t a fluke.

St. Anthony entered play this week having won eight games in a row and 10 overall. The Huskies started out 2017 with three games last week and came up with three victories.

St. Anthony beat Blake and North Branch going away and appeared ready to do the same to Hill-Murray before the Pioneers put together a run in the first half to make a game of it.

Leading the way for St. Anthony this season is a trio of players on opposite ends of the experience spectrum. The leading scorer is senior Rhys Langums and second on that list is junior Aaron Smith. Also averaging in double digits in scoring is freshman Tait Nelson.

Each of the three players has failed to reach double digits in points in a game once this season. Two of them did it in the same game and that was St. Anthony’s lone loss thus far.

Langums leads the team at 19.4 points per game and has scored 20 or more points five times this season. His season high is 27, which he reached in a victory over Bloomington Kennedy on Dec. 22, and he has hit for 26 three times.

Smith has St. Anthony’s top two individual scoring games this season. He scored 30 against Trinity on Dec. 17 and opened the season with 28 against St. Paul Washington on Dec. 2.

Nelson, who saw plenty of varsity time last year as an eighth grader, started the season with six points against Washington but hasn’t been held under 12 points in any game since. He has scored 20 or more three times with his season high being 21 against St. Thomas Academy.

St. Thomas Academy is responsible for the Huskies’ only loss through 11 games.

Over the holiday break, St. Anthony spent a couple of days playing in a tournament at South St. Paul High School. The Huskies knocked off the host Packers and Park-Cottage Grove to claim the tournament title.

St. Anthony’s winning streak will be put to its toughest test on Jan. 10 when the Huskies venture downtown to take on DeLaSalle. The Islanders are the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Class AAA and their only loss to a Minnesota team came against Maple Grove, which is ranked No. 2 in the state in Class AAAA.

It has been nine years since St. Anthony last took down DeLaSalle. The Huskies beat the Islanders 81-77 in January of 2008 and since then has lost 10 in a row to them. 

DeLaSalle is the five-time defending Class AAA state champion. The last time a team other than the Islanders won it all in Class AAA was 2011, when Orono beat Columbia Heights in the championship game.

Following the DeLaSalle tilt, St. Anthony returns home on Jan. 13 to host Holy Angels, a team on the opposite end of the rope. The Stars entered this week having won only once in nine games.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

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