White Bear Lake has not been to a state tournament since 2000. But if the Bears continue on their current path, that streak could come to an end.
White Bear Lake is not ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A, but it opened the season with nine consecutive victories before falling 90-82 to Centennial in overtime on Jan. 2. The Bears (9-1, 2-0) can get back on track this week against two of their biggest rivals, Stillwater and Woodbury.
On Tuesday, the Bears play at Stillwater (7-4, 1-2), where they have won the past two seasons. White Bear Lake has won four in a row against the Ponies and 10 of 18 since the 2010-11 season. But Stillwater has twice ended the Bears’ season in the Class 4A, Section 7 playoffs, including in 2012-13 when White Bear Lake had won both regular-season games.
Coach Keith Lockwood said his team needs to pick up intensity on defense to get back into the win column against Stillwater. “Our execution and effort on defense was lacking (in the loss to Centennial),” Lockwood said. “This team can score points. To rise above, we will need to defend.”
Senior guard and Southwest Minnesota State commit Sam Schwartz (22.3 ppg and 10 rpg) and 6-8 senior forward Jeremy Beckler (21 ppg, 10.6 blocks per game) lead the Bears. Senior guard Isaac Tessier chips in 16.5 points and 5.9 assists per game.
Stillwater, which has lost three consecutive games, is led by senior Nate Shikenjanski (19.3 ppg), 6-6 senior forward Ben Recksiedler (14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and 6-6 senior forward Trenton Atwood (14.4 ppg, 13.7 rpg).