by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
One more down-to-the-wire victory by the Elk River Elks would have tied them for first place.
However, conference leader Osseo fended off the Elks 67-62, scoring the game’s last six points in the final 30 seconds, at ERHS on Monday evening.
The Elks rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half and took a 62-61 lead with 54 seconds left when Clay Elrod sank one of two free shots. The 6-foot-5 sophomore was game-high with 23 points.
But Osseo’s 6-foot-9 sophomore Ian Theisen struck for a three-point play with :29 left off a good feed from D.J. Hebert, drawing the foul from Elrod. On the other end, Theisen rebounded when Ryan Ness missed a driving layup, got fouled by Ness and buried two more free shots for a 66-62 lead.
Theisen had 16 points and 16 rebounds for Osseo. Junior guard Bridgeport Tusler sniped for 21 points.
The Elks (11-6) had won four straight, and six of seven. They had won all six previous conference games that went down to the final half-minute. The Elks made this one another such nail-biter against a team that beat them 70-42 on Dec. 13.
The No. 7 ranked Orioles (16-2 overall) are now 11-1 in the NWSC, opening a two-game lead over Elk River and Champlin Park, each 9-3.
Elrod shot 10-for-17 in leading the Elks. Ness had 12 points, all in the first half.
The Elks will play at Coon Rapids on Thursday evening.
Osseo 67, Elk River 62
Elk River – Tucker Morrell 7, Ryan Ness 12 (5 reb), Porter Morrell 7 (5 ast), Clay Elrod 23 (6 reb), Terry Hadden 3, Landon Werner 5, Coleman Hayes 5 … Team: 23-49 FG (7-19 3FG), 9-11 FT; 26 rebounds; 17 fouls
Osseo – Michael Bush 2, Bryan Gichaba 9, DJ Hebert 13, Will Jjohnson 2, Ian Theisen 16 (16 reb), Bridgeport Tusler 20 … Team: 25-55 FG (7-17 3FG), 10-18 FT, 31 rebounds, 17 fouls.