The Princeton boys basketball team stayed scorching hot as the Tigers ran their winning streak to nine games and 16 of their last 17 games after picking up a win over St. Francis by a score of 85-50 on Jan. 28 followed by 65-64 and 101-70 victories over Monticello and Chisago Lakes.
Kicking its week off with the Saints, Princeton jumped out to a 19-point lead after one half of play and continued its dominance in the second half, en route to the 35-point win over its conference opponent. Cody Miller led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while four other Princeton players scored in double figures.
Moving into the contest against Monticello, the Tigers found themselves in a tight contest throughout its duration with the Magic grabbing a 13-point lead early in the first half, but Princeton was able to battle back, closing the game to a one-point Monticello advantage heading into the half. Princeton has only trailed at half four times all season, with three of those resulting in losses.
Mistakes plagued both teams as the two combined for 45 turnovers, but the Tigers were able to make enough plays down the stretch and with Tate Laabs’ late free throws, were able to squeak out the one-point win. Laabs finished with 17 points to go along with his four rebounds, four assists and four steals. Haydn Stay added 12 points in the win.
Finishing off its stretch with a game against Chisago Lakes, Princeton left little doubt early about who would win the contest, taking a 53-26 lead into halftime, putting the game into the Tigers’ control as it coasted to a 31-point win.
Moving from the close win over Monticello to the blowout victory, Stay explained the difference between the two games. “Obviously, it’s fun to play in those close games but sometimes it is nice to have an easier game,” said Stay on the big win. “Chisago Lakes is most likely going to be one of our playoff opponents, we want to be making sure we have confidence against them,” continued Stay on the possible playoff match up against the Wildcats.
Heading into the rematch against Chisago Lakes, a 15-point win on Jan. 14, Princeton was able to get going thanks to two seniors, explained head coach Brett Cloutier. “The first time we played Chisago Lakes, they played us really tough. Cody Miller was able to get our offense going by hitting shots then Tate Laabs really went off in the second half, it was really good to see,” said Cloutier.
Laabs finished with a career-high 28 points and Cody Miller added 21 in the win.
A problem area for the Tigers in the first match-up against Chisago Lakes was defense without fouling, as the Wildcats were able to make it to the free throw line more than 30 times making a point of emphasis for Cloutier.
“We wanted the game to flow, when we foul guys it lets them catch their breath, stops the clock, gets them to reset on defense. We want to keep the game moving, that was our big point of emphasis, to keep them off the line foul and we got a little sloppy there in the second half, we can be better on defense.” Showing that despite the large win, Princeton can still improve.
The Tigers now sit at 16-3 on the year and 7-0 in the Mississppi 8 conference, while Chisago Lakes dropped to 4-13 and 3-6 in conference play.
Princeton will now enjoy a couple off days before looking to stretch its winning-streak to 10 games as it will take on North Branch on Feb. 7 in Princeton.