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Boys Basketball: Buck revels in being Wildcats' sharpshooter

Goodhue's Taylor Buck hit four 3-pointers in the first half of the Wildcats' 57-37 Class 1A state quarterfinal victory against Lake Park-Audubon Thursday at Williams Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

MINNEAPOLIS – Leave Taylor Buck wide open and he'll be happy to make you pay.

With four 3-pointers in the first half of Goodhue's 57-37 Class 1A state quarterfinal win against Lake Park-Audubon, Buck was a tad insulted the Raiders drifted away from him to cover inside players like Jacob McNamara and Ben Opsahl.

“Yes, I was surprised because I'm like, 'Hey, I'm a shooter,'” Buck said in the post-game press conference.

Buck is confident in his outside shooting skills, and he was happy to provide some early daggers for the Wildcats. But, the senior guard is humble enough to know without that inside presence, he wouldn't get those open looks to begin with.

“The reason I was so wide open was because of all the penetration we had and the kick-outs,” Buck said. “I was just sitting there and when I'm open, I got to shoot it.”

Averaging 10.9 points per game and hitting a team-high 57 3-pointers for Goodhue this season, the 5-foot-8 shooting guard exudes confidence on the court both as a shooter and one of the Wildcats' high-pressure guards on defense.

“If there's a guy who has swag on our team, it is Taylor,” said Goodhue head coach Matt Halverson. “For the most part, we haven't have to dial that back. We always say be confident, not cocky, and Taylor does a nice job of being confident in his game. I'm sure he took offense to them sagging off of him and he wanted to make him pay. … For him to do it at Williams Arena on a big stage shows he's put the time in.”

As a junior last year, Buck had fun with his first state tournament appearance. Now that he's a senior, the urgency is there and he wants Goodhue to duplicate last year's runner-up success, if not surpass it.

“I have two games left and there's no better feeling knowing that one of them will be at the Target Center. And if I can play well enough, we might be in the Target Center again on TV. There's no better feeling,” Buck said. “Senior year, it's a great way to go out and we deserve it. We have so many seniors on this team and we don't want it to end.”

And, there's one part of last year's state championship that Buck has learned to laugh at. Against Minneapolis North, Buck was posterized by the Polars' Tyler Johnson as the future University of Minnesota football player leaped over Buck for a second-half dunk that was caught by photographers.

After a laugh, Buck said, “Every person that talks to me about last year talks to me about that picture. I fire right back with, 'You know what? We were up one at half.' You always want to get back to that stage and play those guys again. It's a long road and we're really close to getting there.”

Halverson added, “Taylor can dish it out as much as he can take it. That was something he got a lot of grief for. I don't know if it was any motivation, but he's a steady kid and he doesn't get rattled.”

And if teams sleep on Buck again, he'll be more than happy to duplicate Thursday's success.

“We knew last year when we made our state run, Taylor was going to be a big contributor to that and he had a great state tournament last year,” Halverson said. “Big players step up in big situations and Taylor did that today.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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