March 17, 2008

Tucker ready for heavyweight battle

All you have to say to any Minnesota prep basketball fan is Minnetonka vs. Hopkins and there really isn't much more to add. The two powerhouse programs meet for the third time this season on Tuesday evening after splitting the first two contests on each other's home floor. This time it is win or go home. For future Hawkeye Anthony Tucker, it is another step on the road that will hopefully end with a state title.

"We are pretty excited. We split during the regular season and the winner of this game goes to the state tournament, so it will be a lot of fun," Tucker said Sunday evening.

In the first meeting between two of the most highly rated teams in the state, Hopkins pulled away for a 93-79 victory at Minnetonka. In the re-match in early March, the Skippers, led by Tucker's 35 points, got a bit of revenge with a 79-75 win on Hopkins home floor, handing them their first loss of the season.

"I shot the ball really well in the second game and honestly I don't think we played exceptionally well as a team. I think we played very well defensively, but we played smarter in that game and much closer to our capabilities. All we have to do is play like we can and I think we will be alright," Tucker said.

On Tuesday night the third contest will be held on a neutral site, Osseo High School, which will be filled with over 2,800 fans in the stands. The demand is so high for this game that fans attending the tournament game earlier in the evening will be asked to leave to accommodate the expected crowd. Tucker knows that the stakes are high for the game on Tuesday evening and there aren't many secrets left between both schools.

"We pretty much know what to prepare for because we have played them two times before. As a senior you are always nervous in a game like this one because it could be your last game, but you can't look at it from that perspective."

While many observers believe this contest is essentially a state title game, Tucker knows that they cannot go into the contest with that mentality.

"A lot of people think this is the state title game, but we can't think of it in those terms because if we are fortunate enough to win, we would still have to win three more games against very tough team if we are to win a state title," he said.

If Minnetonka can win this rubber match, then it could give Tucker a leg up on the competition being mentioned for Mr. Basketball in the state of Minnesota. This weekend, Tucker was named first team All Metro and was also honored at the Metro Player of the Year. While he is humbled by the individual honors, he knows there is a larger team goal he would like to achieve.

"It is a great honor to be mentioned for it because there are a lot of great players that have won it in the past. Personally, I would rather win a state championship than any awards."

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