March 31, 2008

Tucker celebrates state title

It wasn't the kind of start that Minnetonka and future Hawkeye Anthony Tucker wanted in the state title game, but the ending was much better. The Skippers fell behind 12-0 out of the gate and eventually trailed by as many as 22 in the first half to Henry Sibley. But, a furious rally brought Minnetonka back and the Skippers eventually pulled away for a 68-59 victory with Tucker's 27 points, including 20 in the second half, leading the charge.

After an emotional win Tucker reflects on the victory on Sunday evening.

"It was an incredible night. We didn't come out and play our best game of the year, but we came together in the second half and made a great run to pull it out," Tucker said.

The Skippers came into the state tournament as the odds on favorite having beaten rival and top rated Hopkins, but Henry Sibley wasn't about to give in and blitzed Minnetonka right out of the gate.

"We really struggled to score in the beginning and I made a couple of defensive mistakes that were kind of dumb that resulted in easy baskets. I think that led to some of the frustration on offense," he said.

Even after falling behind by 22 points in the first half, Tucker and the Skippers used their experience against Hopkins to get back on track.

"We trailed Hopkins by 18 in our last meeting and came back to win that game, so we knew we weren't out of the game. We just had to get some stops and some easy baskets and we got back into it."

Thanks to a 31-9 run that spanned the latter stages of the first half and into the early fourth quarter, Minnetonka finally took the lead 43-42 on a three pointer by Tucker.

"At halftime, no one really wanted to be in the locker room because we all knew we wanted to be out there playing. Once we got out there and started playing the way we were capable of playing, we all knew that we could get this one."

While winning a state title is a dream come true for the future Hawkeye, it is also an emotional moment for Tucker, who has now played his last high school game with his teammates.

"It is kind of bittersweet," Tucker said. "This is the last time I will be able to play a game with my high school teammates and that has been a lot of fun. We set the goal of winning a state title at the beginning of the season, worked towards it, and achieved it. All in all it has been a great season."

The next news coming for Tucker will be the results of the Mr. Basketball award in Minnesota. Tucker is expected to be a finalist for the award after being named the Metro Player of the Year recently. But, he isn't giving it much thought and in fact, he is humble enough to be happy if one of his friends earns the honor.

"I am not too worried about it," he said. "One of my really good friends, Jordan Taylor, who is headed to Wisconsin, is pretty deserving of it. I would be just as happy if he won it as if I won it. I am more excited about the state championship and my future at Iowa with the Hawkeyes."

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