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Falcon Spotlight

Jesse Elling

Jesse Elling's talents have made him a valuable member of the Falcon basketball team during this 2006-07 season.

Elling may seldom appear in the box score after a game with the most points or rebounds. But what he does can mean the difference between wins and losses whenever the Falcons are on the court.

Elling has developed into a stalwart defensive player and nothing shows that better than the work he did a couple of weeks ago when the Falcons played St. Thomas in the championship game of the CHS Cooperatives Holiday Tournament at the Karges Center.

The River Falls native was matched up against St. Thomas' Bryan Schnettler, a talented guard and outside shooter who was averaging over 20 points a game - with most of his points coming from three-point range. Elling played 23 minutes and limited Schnettler to 3-10 shooting from behind the arc. And one of   those three-pointers came off a scramble when the Falcons failed to corral a rebound. Schnettler hit just six of 22 shots overall in the game.

Besides playing great defense, Elling also had a solid all-around game. He scored seven points, going 2-2 from the field and 1-1 from behind the arc. He was also 2-2 at the line. He had one block, turned the ball over just once and had one rebound.

The 6-0 185 pound sophomore was named the team's Player of the Week after the tournament. In the team's 110-66 win over North Central he scored a career-high 14 points. "Jesse gave us a nice spark against North Central, scoring 14 points and then against St. Thomas he did an outstanding job against Schnettler," said Falcon Coach Jeff Berkhof.

In the two games he was 7-10 from the field, including 3-5 from three-point range. He was 4-4 from the line and scored 21 points. He had four rebounds and one block in 37 minutes of playing time.

"Jesse plays hard one-on-one defense and has the skills to shut opponents down," said Berkhof. "Overall he is one of our better athletes. We tested the players at the start of the season and he was on top of all the charts. He can hit shots, is very crafty and sneaky to the basket."

Elling knows that his defensive play has helped him get playing time this year. He averages about nine minutes of playing time a game and has played more and more as the season has progressed. "I had played against Schnettler in summer leagues and knew some of the things he liked to do," he explained about his success in the St. Thomas game.

"Being known as a defensive player can be tough, but it's the best way for me to help the team. My teammates and coaches understand that and that's what's important," said Elling about his defensive role.

"Besides defense, one of my strengths is getting to the basket - driving," said Elling. He has shown that in the past few games, especially against North Central when he finished with the career-high 14 points. He is averaging 3.4 points and 1.1 rebounds per game this year. He has been very consistent from the field hitting 16-26 (.615) of his shots, including 4-8 from behind the arc. He is 11-13 from the line. He has four steals and seven assists to his credit.

"Jesse has worked had and it shows what people can accomplish if they work hard. He has been a pleasant surprise for our team," said Berkhof.

Part of that hard work came in his freshman season when he injured his meniscus in an early-season practice. He tried to practice after the injury, but was forced to have surgery and missed the entire season. "The rehab was tough at first - just trying to lift almost no weight was even difficult. But you just have to get used to it and keep going." In the 2005-06 season he played in 10 games and scored nine points and had five rebounds.

At River Falls High School he averaged 14 points, six rebounds and three assists a game in 2004. The Wildcats won the regional title and reached the section finals. He earned three letters and started for two seasons. He was named to the All-Big River Conference team and played in the Western Wisconsin All-Star Classic. He was also an accomplished track & field athlete.

Elling, who is majoring in landscape design, shows enthusiasm and excitement for the rest of the 2006-07 Falcon season. "I think we can finish high in the WIAC. We've got some big games coming up and it will be good to play at home. There have been a few games that just haven't gone out way so far."

Elling's family, including his father, Mike, and his mother, Ann, attend most of the Falcons games. "It doesn't matter if the game is five hours away - they help keep me up and give me the confidence I need."
Jesse Elling

Jesse Elling

Hometown: River Falls, Wis.

High School: River Falls

Year: Sophomore

Height: 6-0

Weight: 185

Major: Landscape Design

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