by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Bryan Edwards supplied the last five points, via his rugged rebounding and free throw accuracy, as Elk River held off Maple Grove 61-59 at home Friday evening.
“That was a much-needed win,” said Edwards, who totaled 17 points, referring to a three-game losing streak. “We all stuck to it until the end and we came through.”
Porter Morrell led the Elks with 27 points, and when the senior guard missed a couple of layups at the end, Edwards was there to muscle his way to the rebound and get the game-saving points.
The 6-4 senior center scored on a fadeaway jump shot after a rebound with 1:50 left, got fouled and added the free shot for a 59-56 lead. Maple Grove’s Matt Lindgren answered with a 3-pointer, knotting the score again.
After each team came up empty, the Elks tossed the ball around for the last minute and a half, with Morrell bounding into the lane as the clock wound inside 10 seconds.
Morrell, hounded by two defenders, missed, but Edwards rebounded and got fouled by Lindgren on the outback. Edwards went to the line with 6.3 seconds left and swished them both.
“I’m fifth on the team,” said Edwards, asked about his season free-throw proficiency. “We practice them all the time and I have confidence in my free throws.”
Maple Grove managed a desperation 3-pointer that fell short and the Elks had a payback victory. The Crimson beat them 61-59 on Jan. 22.
The two evenly-matched squads are each 11-7 in the NWSC with two games left. Elk River is 16-8 overall and Maple Grove 14-9.
Jake Weineke, splendid 6-foot-5 athlete who’s got a football scholarship as a wide receiver, scored 20 points for the Crimson. Erik Olson, 6-6 post, added 12 points.
The Elks led by as much as 14 points early in the second half but the Crimson caught up and took the lead twice in the last four minutes.
The Elks had lost to Champlin Park, Park Center and Armstrong in succession, their first three-game skid of the season.
They will host No. 2 ranked Osseo on Tuesday.