by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Porter Morrell sent the game to overtime and his brother Tucker took over from there as the Elk River Elks outlasted an athletic Blaine Bengals squad 83-72 at home Friday evening.
In a game where the Elks’ depth was a big factor, the two sibs at guard had key roles late as Porter sank two free shots with four seconds left to knot the game at 71, and Tucker scored the Elks first eight points in overtime on a 3-pointer and five of six free throws.
“That’s what you live for, right? I was nervous but I was confident. I was feeling pretty good tonight,” said Porter, a junior, about the pressure of going to the line down for a one-on-one with the score 71-69, after being fouled bringing the ball up the court.
Asked what was in his head, he said, “Just that I’ve got to make both of these and extend the game.”
Coach Randy Klasen said it was a typical Elk game with many players contributing including the bench.
“Terry Hadden came in and kept us in the game in the first half when Ryan and Clay had two fouls each,” said Klasen, noting that the junior guard sank eight first-half points, including two three’s. “Our strength is our team. Porter came through, and then Tucker made some big baskets. Ness made that big three and some other key shots. Bryan Edwards was a force on the boards.”
Guards led the scoring as Porter Morrell hit a career-high 19, Ness also sank 19, and Tucker Morrell 16. On the inside, Clay Elrod had nine points, and Bryan Edwards 11 rebounds and five assists along with four points.
The Elks (6-4 overall) are tied for third place in the NWSC. No. 3 ranked Osseo is 6-0 and Maple Grove 5-0, with the Elks and Champlin Park each 4-1.
Blaine got 21 points each from dynamic forwards Tanner Schumacher (who was 5-for-10 on three’s) and Duke Anyanwu.
Blaine is 2-4 in conference and 5-5 overall, but that includes a 1-3 start with scoring leader Schumacher was sidelined with a back problem. The Bengals lost his first game back, to Osseo 62-44, and won four straight before losing to the Elks.
“They are a very good team and we had to battle to stay with them,” said Klassen. The Elks trailed by as much as 10 in the first half, which ended 41-35, then amped up their defense in the second half.
Shooting accuracy lifted the Elks. They made 11-for-20 on three-pointers with Hadden 2-for-2, Porter Morrell 2-for-3, Ness 3-for-6 and Tucker Morrell 2-for-6. They cashed 20 of 26 at the line with Porter Morrell 5-for-5, Elrod 4-for-4, and Tucker Morrell 8-for-10.
Ness sank a 3-pointer for a 69-48 lead with 33 seconds left and Schumacher did the same to regain a 71-69 edge for Blaine with 10 seconds to go.
Klasen didn’t call a time out, leaving it up to his guards, and Porter Morrell hustled he length of the court before being fouled on the left side of the circle. A 79-percent free throw shooter, he calmly swished both shots.
In the OT, Tucker Morrell’s eight points opened a 79-71 lead while Blaine missed all their field goal attempts and Edwards took charge of the defensive boards.
The Elks will play at Andover on Tuesday.
Elk River 83, Blaine 72
Blaine …….. 41 30 1 — 72
Elk River …. 35 36 11 — 83
Blaine – Tanner Schumacher 21, Duke Anyanwu 21, Trent Hensker 9, Ryan Hobbs 4, Josh Linberg 8, Alex Cappard 2, Joe Robel 2, Kunte Ayinde 2, Stephon Egbujor 3 … Team: 26-50 FG, 8-21 3FG, 12-15 FT, 23 rebounds, 22 fouls
Elk River – Tucker Morrell 16, Ryan Ness 19, Porter Morrell 19, Clay Elrod 9, Terry Hadden 8, Landon Werner 5, Coleman Hayes 3, Bryan Edwards 4 (5 ast, 11 reb)… Team: 26-50 FG, 11-20 FG, 20-26 FT; 30 rebounds, 15 fouls,