By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
The St. Michael-Albertville boys’ basketball team is peeking at the right time and so is one of their key seniors.
The Knights are currently on a five-game winning streak and tied for the conference lead with Buffalo. Wins over Monticello, Duluth Denfeld and Big Lake improved STMA’s record to 8-1 in its last nine games.
The most recent of victories came Monday night in a 59-58 overtime victory at Big Lake. Senior forward Brian Ferry enjoyed his best shooting night of his high school career, pumping in a career high 27 points to help edge the Hornets for the second time this season.
Ferry has hit double digits in three of his last four games and STMA head coach Tim Anfenson said he’s become a nice added weapon on offense.
“He’s definitely playing his best basketball of his career,” Anfenson said. “He’s finishing down low and hitting about 60-percent on his two-point shots.”
Another reason for the recent surge in scoring is the emergence of sophomore guard Jackson Greenwaldt. In the first half of the season, Greenwaldt took the league by surprise, averaging nearly 15 points per game.
With teams now keying on STMA’s young scorer, it leaves other guys open and guys like Ferry and senior’s Justin McLain and Cole Krutzig have stepped up big time.
McLain finished with a season-high 14 points in a 53-44 victory on Feb. 21 at Monticello. The victory over both Monticello and Big Lake improved STMA’s conference winning streak to seven games and had them sitting atop the Mississippi 8 as of Monday night with an 8-1 record.
“We’re on a little nice run here,” Anfenson said. “Our focus is on Friday night’s game. We can get a piece of the conference title with a win and that would be a big accomplishment. We weren’t picked by many in any of the pre-season polls.”
Squeezed between the two conference wins was a 62-54 road victory Feb. 23 at Duluth Denfeld. Playing a game every other day since last Thursday, Anfenson said the timing of the non-conference game at Duluth was not his favorite moment on the schedule.
“We kind of got a bad deal there,” he said. “Playing three games in five days and having to travel to Duluth really wore on us. You could see in the Big Lake game the guys didn’t have the energy. But we battled through it and I’m extremely happy to get three wins out of the deal.”
Greenwaldt finished with 22 points at Duluth. Ferry finished with 12 points and Krutzig had 11. Sophomore Josh Tracy led the Knights with 10 rebounds.
STMA (16-9 overall) finishes the regular season at home Friday night at 7:15 p.m. against Cambridge-Isanti. A win clinches at least a tie for the conference title for a second consecutive year.
Despite having 16 wins, the Knights are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to hosting a section quarterfinal home game. STMA is ranked fifth highest of the Section 8-4A teams in the QRF rankings that’s used to calculate power rankings for home court advantage.
Brainerd is currently the top seed. Elk River, Buffalo and Moorhead are the other teams ahead of STMA. The Knights could leapfrog Buffalo if the Bison drop their last two games and the Knights defeat Isanti.