by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
If you thought Porter Morrell and Jake Wilson were long-range sharpshooters during the regular season, you should have seen them at the state all-star game Saturday, in the 3-point contest, that is.
Morrell, Elk River guard, and Wilson, Zimmerman forward, each nailed 17 of them in just 45 seconds, tying for first place and forcing an overtime. They each got 30 more seconds, and both stayed on fire, with Morrell winning 9 to 8.
“I think Porter only missed a couple. I might have missed three,” said Wilson, referring to the 45-second regulation.
Said Morrell: “That was pretty cool, the two players from District 728 coming out on top.”
The 3-point contest took place prior to the second round of all-star games Saturday evening at Macalester. Wilson and Morrell played for the Maroon team, coached by Dave Montbriand of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa. Four 10-man squads, all seniors, were picked by the coaches association.
Maroon lost both games, 130-95 in St. Cloud on Friday and 115-101 at Macalester on Saturday. Morrell had 11 points and six rebounds Friday, and eight points and four assists Saturday. Wilson notched nine points, two dunks and nine rebounds Friday, and five points Saturday.
Morrell said it was fun breaking a hundred Saturday, and he got the layup at the end to put them over.
“It was mostly 3-pointers and dunks, just like in an NBA all-star game,” said Morrell. “Everybody can shoot, and with the lack of defense, they were always open.”
The two of them also teamed for alley-oop dunk late the Friday game, Morrell to Wilson.
“Before the game,” said Wilson, “we talked about doing an ‘oop,’ and just decided to do it in one of our last possessions.”
Said Morrell: “Jake got a back pick (screen), and was open. I got it to him and he threw it down hard.”
“It got pretty loud in there,” said Wilson about the fan reaction.
Aside from their hot hands in the 3-point contest, both were less torrid outside the arc during the two games, Morrell 3-for-8 and Wilson 1-for-6. During the season, Morrell hit 69 three’s at a robust 42.6 percent clip, while the 6-foot-6 Wilson, more of an inside player, made 33 of them, hitting 33 percent.
Asked which players impressed them most, both singled out Maroon teammate Mackenzie Johnson of Roseville, who scored 18 and 22 points. Morrell said Anders Broman, who scored over 5,000 points for tiny Lakeview Christian of Duluth, looked like the real deal. Both praised Park Center’s Quinton Hooker. “But that’s no surprise — he was Mr. Basketball,” said Morrell, who’s played six conference games against Hooker. Morrell also lauded another conference rival, Osseo’s Bridge Tusler, who scored 21 against them Saturday. The Star News asked about Moorhead’s Aaron Lien, who torched the Elks for 43 points in a 78-77 Elk overtime win in sectionals. Lien had nine points against Maroon, playing for Gold. “They had a couple guys who shot a lot,” said Morrell, “so Lien didn’t get the ball much.”
Wilson, asked if the level of competition limited him in any way, said he wasn’t fazed, having played against all of them previously in AAU ball.
“I’m not real strong, so going to the rim was harder, but every other part of my game, I could do.”
Morrell said the all-star series was a wonderful time.
“There were a lot of great players, and great guys, too. I’m glad I had the experience.”
Wilson has signed with Minnesota-Duluth, and plans to move there during the summer, get an apartment with two other recruits and spend a lot of time in the Bulldogs gym. Morrell said he is almost committed to a D-III school, pending some financial details.