Vs. Chisago Lakes
On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Orono squad traveled to Chisago Lakes to take on the Wildcats.
The Spartans came out of the gate very fast with senior Jack Anderson and junior Colton Codute both hitting early three-point baskets. Junior Jarvis Thomas also started well with two powerful buckets inside.
Following another three-pointer from Anderson, Orono had built a 13–2 lead.
Junior Max Bjorklund proceeded to get on a roll and had 12 of the next 16 points to help keep the Spartans in control 29-20.
Scoring remained even throughout the rest of the first half as the Spartans ran into foul trouble with four players sitting on the bench each with two fouls.
At the break, the Spartans were in control, leading 47–33.
The second half began much like the first half, with Orono maintaining control.
Orono continued to control the rebounding with Thomas leading the way. The Spartans controlled the pace of the game with balanced scoring from Thomas, Bjorlkund, Codute, Seitz and Junior Griffin Sage.
Chisago Lakes did not give up and closed the gap to 68–49, but a three-point basket from junior Thomas Lecy, helped rebuild the lead by 23.
The Wildcats continued to play hard but were unable to get the game closer than 17 points.
Coach Wohler put several reserves in the game leading up to a Spartan win, 88–71.
Orono was led in scoring by Bjorklund with 22, Thomas and Codute with 14 and Anderson with 12. Thomas led in rebounds with 10 and Codute led in assists with nine.
Vs. Benilde-St. Margarets
On Thursday, the Spartans hosted the Red Knights from Benilde-St. Margarets.
This was a very important game for the Spartans, because Benilde is considered one of their tougher section rivals.
The game started with both teams playing very aggressive. Early scoring from Bjorklund, Mshihiri and Thomas kept the home team close, trailing 11–10.
Following a three-point basket from Anderson and a lay-up from Bjorklund, the Spartans built a slim 15-11 lead.
However, Benilde was shooting the ball very well and quickly regained the lead 25–22.
The rest of the half remained close with both teams continuing their fast paced aggressive play but the Spartans were maintaining the edge on the boards. With the Spartans trailing 28–27, Thomas converted two free throws and Sage connected on a three-point shot to help the team regain the lead. Codute was able to hit a last second shot and the Spartans led 36–35 at the break.
The second half started out much like the first, with both teams playing good defense and shooting well.
Following baskets from Anderson, Mshihiri and consecutive three-point shots from Codute, Orono took a 51–47 lead.
Thomas took control of the game inside and scored 10 of the next 12 points capped off by two impressive dunks.
At this point, Orono enjoyed their largest lead, 63-54.
The officials continued to call the game very close and Thomas picked up his fourth foul with eight minutes to play. Near the five-minute mark, Thomas picked up his fifth foul with Orono leading 65–55.
Anderson and Mshihiri made free throws on consecutive possessions to build the lead to 69–55.
However, Anderson, Mshihiri and Bjorklund all picked up their fourth foul which made it difficult to play the same aggressive style of defense.
The Red Knights closed the game to eight points at one point but Anderson, Bjorklund, Sage, and Codute all made free throws to finish the game.
The final score was Orono 83, Benilde-St. Margarets, 76.
Leading the Spartans in scoring was Thomas with 18 points, Codute and Bjorklund with 15 points each, Mshihiri with 12 and Anderson and Sage with nine points.
Vs. St. Paul Central
On Saturday, Orono was looking to build their winning streak to 10 games and the Minutemen were looking to rebound from some recent close losses.
The Spartans started strong with a three-point basket from Anderson and a dunk by Thomas to give the team an early five-point lead. Anderson followed with 2 more baskets and the Orono team led 9–4 early in the contest.
Bjorklund added a three-point shot to keep the lead at 16–13, and following two straight Thomas Lecy threes, the Spartans had opened a nine-point lead, 26–17.
The Spartans had a definite size advantage and St. Paul Central had difficulty scoring inside against Thomas and Anderson.
The home team quickly built a 16-point lead and with a Sage three-point basket, the lead at half was 44–28.
In the second half, the Spartans took advantage of their size difference, with Anderson and Thomas blocking several of the Minutemen shots.
Bjorklund scored eight early points along and the Orono lead quickly grew to 31 points at 65–34.
Orono continued to control the game with several reserve players contributing to the effort.
The Spartans held on to beat the Minutemen 76–59.
The Spartans were led in scoring by Bjorklund with 16 points, Lecy with 14 points and Thomas with 12. Thomas also led the team in rebounding with 10.
After the game, Coach Wohler was very pleased with his team’s effort in the past week.
“We had an outstanding week of basketball having to play three games in five days. I am really proud of how hard the guys are working and playing together. We had a big section win over Benilde on Thursday that will help when we seed for positioning at the end of the year. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as we play 4A powers Chaska on Tuesday at home and Edina on Martin Luther King day at Patrick Henry High School,” Wohler said.