by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Just like hundreds of times Tucker Morrell has tossed up a three-pointer at home while shooting around with his brother Porter, the one he took with four seconds left Thursday night swished cleanly through the cords.
Except this one was “the biggest shot of my life, so far,” said the Elk River senior guard.
Tucker actually sank two big jumpers in the final minute as the Elks outlasted a swift, sharp-shooting Coon Rapids team 76-73, and totaled 17 points.
After his 12-footer tied the score with a minute left, Coon Rapids took a 73-71 lead on a slashing layup by Dom Reif with 22 seconds left.
On the other end, Porter Tucker drove into the lane on a post-entry play and kicked the ball out to Tucker on the wing.
“My brother drove to the basket, and took my man off me, so I was open,” said Tucker, who hit the bulls-eye and finished 3-for-6 outside the arc.
The game wasn’t over yet. The Elks defended the inbounds play well enough for the Cardinals to throw a pass that was caught out-of-bounds at midcourt. Elk guard Landon Werner was fouled and sank two free shots with :03 left. Coon Rapids missed a half-court shot and Elks’ win No. 3 was in the books.
Otherwise, leader of the victory was 6-foot-5 sophomore Clay Elrod with 22 points and 12 rebounds on strong post-up moves, 7-for-16 shooting from the field and 8-for-11 at the line. Ryan Ness chipped in 10 points and five assists.
Tucker and Porter, who’s a junior, work hard on their shooting at home.
“We’ve got a basketball court and home and we go one-on-on and shoot three’s all the time. We shoot a couple hundred a day.”
Three-point shooting has been one of the reasons the Elks have started the season 3-1 with mostly the same roster that went 7-20 last year.
“It’s mostly just experience and confidence,” said Tucker. ” And we are playing more as a team than we did last year.”
Coon Rapids (3-2), which scored mostly on layups, several of them after steals, was led by 6-4 forward Omat Okwan with 18 points, 6-3 junior guard Pierre Roddy with 16 points and seven assists, and 5-9 guard EdDare Hibbard with 14 point.
Next for the Elks is the River Battle, at Rogers this year. The boys will tip off at 5 p.m. and the girls at 7 p.m.
Last year, the Rogers boys beat the Elks 58-56, their first win in the series in eight tries. But that loss kept the current Elk squad winless against Rogers.
“Rogers? Biggest game of the year for me,” declared Tucker Morrell. “I have never beaten Rogers, in junior high, junior varsity, or varsity. I want this game bad.”
Elk River 76, Coon Rapids 73
Coon Rapids …….. 29 44 – 73
Elk River ………….. 36 40 – 76
Coon Rapids – Dom Reif 10, EdDarie Hibblr 14 (5 ast), EdVonte Hibbler 9, Joe Churilla 5, Omot Okwan 18 (8 reb), Pierre Roddy 16 (7 ast, 6 reb) … Team: 24-45 FG, 5-14 3FG, 20-25 FT, 22 rebounds, 21 fouls, 16 turnovers
Elk River – Bryan Edwards 7, Clay Elrod 22 (12 reb), Coleman Hayes 5 (4 reb), Landon Werner 7 (3 ast, 3 stl), Ryan Ness 10 (5 ast), Porter Morrell 8, Tucker Morrell 17 … Team: 26-55 FG, 5-16 3FG, 19-25 FT, 28 rebounds, 18 fouls, 18 turnovers