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Men's College Basketball: Florida connection clicks

Clardy, Brown Garrick lead Ridgewater past St. Cloud, 82-73

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Ridgewater freshman guard Andrew Sherman pushes past St. Cloud defenders Michael Asbury (left) and Mason Sohre on Wednesday at Ridgewater. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — After going undefeated in the month of December, Ridgewater College men’s basketball extended its win streak to six Wednesday.

The Warriors earned an 82-73 Minnesota College Athletic Conference victory over St. Cloud Technical & Community College on Wednesday.

Its two players from Pensacola, Florida, helped extend the win streak and have Ridgewater go undefeated in conference play.

In his Ridgewater debut, and first basketball game in three years, Jaylyn Clardy, the 6-foot-3 wing from Pensacola, notched a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes.

“It’s amazing,” Clardy said. “I feel like I can try and do it again. If that is what is going to help make the team win, because I’m here to win.”

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Ridgewater point guard DJ Brown fires a 3-pointer over St. Cloud guard Reace Anders on Wednesday at Ridgewater. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

DJ Brown, the Warriors 6-1 guard from Pensacola, finished with a game-high 19 points with three 3-pointers, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“We had good chemistry out there,” Brown said. “I can’t do anything without the team. The team got me going and we got it going in the second half and I just kept going.”

Something coach Nathan Thooft was concerned about was that the Warriors came into the matchup having not played in 25 days.

“First game back from break is always an interesting thing, getting guys back into good habits and stuff,” he said.

The Warriors showed signs of rustiness in the first half. The Cyclones took an 11-2 lead at 16:18 with a layup by Manni Ukutegbe. Ridgewater narrowed the gap to 13-8.

With a layup by Menelik Garrick, the 6-foot-6 center from Bay City, Fla., Ridgewater managed to bring the deficit back to a one-possession game, trailing 15-13.

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St. Cloud upped the deficit to a 21-13 before Ridgewater went on another run to tie the game at 21 following a layup by freshman Deron Lacy.

Another layup by Garrick gave Ridgewater its first lead of the game at 23-21 with 6:26 to play.

The Cyclones answered by outscoring the Warriors 10-2 in the closing minutes to take a 31-25 halftime lead.

“The first half was a little bit slow like you might expect,” Thooft said.

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In his Ridgewater debut, freshman Jaylyn Clardy notched a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in the 82-73 win over St. Cloud Technica & Community College on Wednesday at Ridgewater. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune
Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

With the Cyclones leading 42-33 in the second half, Clardy showed his talents with two rebounds before sinking back-to-back mid-range jumpers to narrow the deficit 42-37. It ignited the Warriors’ largest run of the game: 16 consecutive points. It gave Ridgewater a 49-42 lead with 11:32 remaining.

Clardy scored six of the 16 points.

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“Before the game, the coaches told me to focus on rebounds,” Clardy said. “I did what coach told me to do and played basketball.

“The first half there was some nervousness, it was the first game I have ever had in like three years, since my high school career. So my teammates were like ‘that mid-range is going to fall, it’s going to fall,’ and that second half I just felt like myself.”

Said Thooft: “In our stuff you really don’t have to be a standout player. If you do your job and are ready to make a read and hit a shot, there’s an opportunity there.”

Thooft told his players to celebrate the win, but be prepared for conference opponent Rochester Community & Technical College on Saturday.

“When we compete like that we’re going to be in basketball games,” he said. “It’s just how are you going to handle road games and respond to quick turnaround games.

“The league is hard with Rochester, Riverland, St. Cloud, Western Tech. There are no easy wins. We just got to come ready and have good scouts and have good practices. And the guys just got to keep building on what we’re doing.”

Ridgewater plays the Yellowjackets at 3 p.m. Saturday in Willmar.

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Ridgewater freshman guard Deron Lacy fires a corner 3-pointer against St. Cloud Technical & Community College on Wednesday at Ridgewater. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

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Ridgewater freshman guard Tyson Dyer brings the ball up court against St. Cloud Technical & Community College on Wednesday at Ridgewater. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

Ridgewater 82,
St. Cloud 73

St. Cloud (4-3) 31 42 — 73
Ridgewater (9-2) 25 57 — 82
ST. CLOUD - Scoring: Semaj Threats 13, Tierre Davis 15, Reace Anders 2, Manni Ukutegbe 18, Lucky Moronge 11, Zeth Hahn 6, Michael Asbury 6, Brandon Gullerud 2 … 3-point shots: Threats 1, Davis 1, Moronge 2 … Rebound leader: Ukutegbe 12 … Assist leader: Anders and Asbury 2 … Steal leader: Threats and Asbury 3 ... Block leader: Ukutegbe 1
RIDGEWATER - Scoring: Tyson Dyer 7, Andrew Sherman 5, DJ Brown 19, Cartier Bickley 14, Menelik Garrick 7, Jaylyn Clardy 13, Deron Lacy 7, Peyton Nelson 9, Easton Davis 1 … 3-point shots: Dyer 1, Sherman 1, Brown 3, Bickley 1, Lacy 1, Nelson 3 … Rebound leader: Garrick and Clardy 11 … Assist leader: Brown 5 … Steal leader: Brown, Garrick, Clardy, Lacy 2 ... Block leader: Garrick 4.

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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