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Boys basketball: Agates looking to rebuild on the fly

Two Harbors junior Jayden Ruberg tries to pass to an open man after the Silver Bay's Weston Monson switches over to defend Ruberg's drive. (News-Chronicle file photo)

Two Harbors boys basketball doubled its win total last season from the year before and was much more competitive throughout the season than it was two seasons ago, when the Agates managed only two wins.

This year — the third under the leadership of coach Bill Anderson — Two Harbors will again be challenged with inexperience after 13 seniors left the program in 2016-17.

"Guys are going to have to step up because there are a lot of voids to fill, but I think these kids are ready," Anderson said.

The Agates have only two seniors on the team, captains Aaron Elmquist and Hunter Johnson, but the junior class boasts 11 players. Anderson said he hopes to get big contributions from Thatcher Sunday, Ricky Brenna, Carson Wenger and Cameron Bugge.

Anderson knows his team is young, but he believes the team will get better as they play together more. The team will have to rely on its defense to keep teams close while it works out the kinks in its offense.

"There is a lot of inexperience and we're going to get thrown to the wolves a little bit," he said. "I think we are going to be challenged to score, so our defense is going to have to create our offense. Until the kids get that experience, I think that what we'll have to rest our laurels on is tremendous tenacious defense and out-working and out-hustling our opponents."

Luckily for the Agate offense, junior Jayden Ruberg — last year's leading scorer — will provide a bit of a spark on the offensive end. Ruberg has been among the most dynamic scoring threat in the Agate arsenal, with a knack for getting to the rim and a solid shot from outside that can help spread the floor.

Elmquist and Johnson will be holding down the middle for an Agate team again without a taller presence in the lane. Several Agates are over 6 feet tall, but they don't have that "one guy," according to Anderson, who is tall enough to dominate the middle with size and protect the rim.

The Agate defense will change by opponent, but Anderson said they will definitely try to press opponents when they feel they can get an advantage. The problem comes against taller teams that can simply pass over the top and out of the pressure.

"There will be some growing pains, for sure," Anderson said. "Over the course of the summer, I think the kids at times they showed what they could do when they play together as a team and they hustle and they outwork their opponent and make things happen."

The Two Harbors program will be rebuilding during the first part of the season, but with solid play from the large junior class and getting more game experience, the Agates could be a dangerous opponent for teams in the section tournament in March.

Two Harbors will tip off its first game at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Ely.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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