Basketball: Maple Grove hands Elk boys 85-68 loss

Ben Erickson of the Elks drew a foul from Jake Wieneke on this drive to the hoop. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Blistering shooting by Maple Grove and a lackluster first-half effort by Elk River led to an 85-68 win by the Crimson over the Elks on Friday evening.

The Elks trailed 51-26 at halftime, then played better in the second half including seven 3-pointers, as they lost their seventh straight game, at  home.

Maple Grove cashed 26 of 32 shots from 2-point range, along with 5-for-19 on threee’s.

“Tonight was a setback,” said Elk coach Randy Klasen.  “I think we have been playing well for quite a few games even though we haven’t won, but tonight we didn’t come on the floor with the energy and attitude you need to compete.

“Give Maple Grove credit — they shot the ball pretty well and we got so far behind, it was pretty tough. But this was the first bad game we’ve played for a while.”

Alex Naasz hit 20 points, Brycen Wojta 16, Matt Humphries 15 and James Morris 12 for the Crimson (6-3 conference, 10-3 overall.)

Ryan Ness led a break by the Elks after a turnover. He would get fouled by James Morris (44). (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Ben Erickson netted 15 points, Tucker Morrell 14 and Ryan Ness 13 for the Elks (1-8 conference, 4-11 overall).

Morrell drilled four 3-pointers and Ness made three as the Elks totaled 10 trifectas — 3-for-14 in the first half but 7-for-15 in the second half.

Morrell also had a good game defensively, drawing four charges from the Crimson. He drew three charges in the last game, a  loss to Champlin Park.

The Elks were 4-4 before their losing streak started. They’ve had some close games lately — 58-54 against Andover, 80-74 against Park Center, 56-51 against Champlin Park on Tuesday with Erickson scoring 22.

“I think we are getting better all the time,” said Klasen. “The kids are pretty positive, and working hard, but our work is not being rewarded with wins right now. Our conference is pretty tough.

“Our margin of error is so small that we have to do so many things well to stay in the game and compete.”

The Elks will play at Armstrong  on Tuesday.

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