The opponent represented the type good teams should beat handily, and Armstrong treated Coon Rapids that way Feb. 22.
In the process, the Falcons continued to relay the message that they are one of those teams high school basketball fans should categorize as dangerous this March.
Then again, Armstrong might have already accomplished at least that.
Before the calendar flipped from 2012 to 2013, Armstrong beat both Wayzata and Edina. Those two clubs were each ranked at the time. And while Armstrong has yet to crack the top-10 this season, the Falcons could easily be.
Armstrong blasted Coon Rapids 79-35 last Friday, wasting little time in doing so.
Before the game was even five minutes old, the Falcons were up 16-4. Within three minutes, the lead would sprout to 25-6, and it would eventually grow to 32-9, 40-10 and the 49-13 margin Armstrong took into the half.
It wasn’t expected to be close, and it really never was.
The Falcons made sure of it.
“We just knew we had to come out and play hard and play like they were going to be one of the top teams we are going to be seeing in the next couple weeks,” said senior guard Mitch Biewen, who finished with 13 points and was one of a dozen players from Armstrong to score in the rout. “We had to just handle business like it was any other game, and we did.”
That, as head coach Greg Miller quantified, was part of the grind mentality the team has played with throughout the season.
Not once, Miller said, has the team concerned itself with who they were playing. Instead, the focus has been solely on how. The result has been a 16-8 record that could very well end up 18-8 by the time the regular season comes to a close later this week.
Armstrong will finish up by playing at Blaine Feb. 26 and then at home against Anoka at 7 p.m. Friday, March 1 – two teams the Falcons have already defeated once this year.
Next week, the attention will turn to the survival mode that is life in the Class 4A, Section 6 tournament.
But unlike year’s past, the Lake Conference-heavy field will be tested from outsiders like Armstrong.
“It is all over the place in that league this year,” said Biewen. “We already know we can compete with any of those teams, and it hasn’t always been that way.”
As mentioned, Armstrong already has two victories in games against possible section opponents Edina and Wayzata. And as a whole, other than the 4-0 record Hopkins currently has against the bottom end of the Northwest Suburban Conference, it has been an NWSC year in their match-ups with the Lake.
Take away those Hopkins victories, and the Lake it just 3-6 vs. the NWSC this year.
Armstrong is responsible for two of those, and if the Falcons survive the opening round, Miller says watch-out.
“The first round game will be a nasty game,” Miller said “If you get by that, you’ll have a lot of confidence. Whoever gets by that first round game will be thinking it is theirs to win. All four teams will feel that way.”
Contact Nick Clark at [email protected]