Two Harbors senior Jayden Ruberg scored 57 points in an 89-80 Two Harbors win over Carlton Friday, Jan. 11, in Two Harbors - but it almost didn't happen.
Ruberg had been bothered for most of the previous few days with flu-like symptoms and Agate coach Bill Anderson wasn't sure how effective his star forward would be against the Bulldogs.
"He's been feeling a little sick," Anderson said before the game. "We'll see how long he can go."
Ruberg seemed to have other ideas. Once the game got started, Ruberg missed a couple shots, but started to find his range on a fast break layup a couple minutes into the game. Then he sank a couple of free throws and buried a 3-pointer.
"At the start of the game, I wasn't shooting my best, but my teammates kept feeding me the ball," Ruberg said. "I finally got my shot to fall and once I get into a rhythm I really feel it."
Ruberg scored 18 points in the first 12 minutes of the game against Carlton and helped Two Harbors build a 32-20 lead over the Bulldogs. Then his shot seemed to leave him again and Carlton went on a 14-2 run to tie the game at 34.
Ruberg seemed to sense the game might slip away, and scored the final six points of the half, helping the Agates to a 38-36 halftime lead, but he was just getting started.
Despite still feeling under the weather, Ruberg played all 36 minutes of the game and scored 33 second half points, waving off Anderson's offers of a break.
"He wouldn't let me take him out of the game," Anderson said.
Behind Ruberg's efforts, the Agate lead swelled to 15 points and every time Carlton made a run, he answered with a steal or a breakaway layup.
Ruberg's 35.2 points per game is currently leading the area by nearly 10 points this season. His closest competition is Greenway's Dylan DeChampeau, who was averaging 25.3 points per game as of Jan. 9, according to statistics submitted to the Duluth News Tribune.
The Two Harbors defense, however, continues to struggle. Despite Ruberg's dominant offensive performance, the outcome of the game was in doubt until the last couple minutes when the Bulldogs resorted to fouling to try to stop the clock, with Ruberg hit four consecutive free throws to seal the win.
What's more, Carlton was down four starters, including its top two returning scorers from last season. Center Ben Soderstrom has missed the entire season after breaking his leg in football and Jake Santkuyl has struggled with ankle problems for the past month.
The Agate defense has had problems stopping opponents throughout the season and is the biggest reason Carlton was just the team's second win this season. The only game Two Harbors has allowed less than 74 points to an opponent was the first game the season opener against Ely, a 59-41 win for the Agates.
Two Harbors has had its own injury problems, though. Starters Joey Marker and Jeremiah Johnson both injured their knees earlier this season. Anderson said Marker is out for the season but Johnson could return just before the playoffs begin in early March.
Two Harbors (2-6) was scheduled to play at Eveleth-Gilbert on Thursday, Jan. 17.