Panthers improved during 3-22 season
Matt Brandt thought the Park Rapids boys basketball team had the potential to win at least 10 games this season.
Not being able to close out close games prevented the Panthers from accomplishing that goal.
Even though the Panthers finished the season with a 1-9 record in Mid-State Conference games and a 3-22 overall record, Brandt was happy with the way his team ended the season.
"As the season went along, there were signs of improvement, but our consistency in play really hurt us," said Brandt. "We established team goals at the beginning of the year and by the end of the season we accomplished some of those goals and that was nice to see. As a whole, we did not meet the expectations we were all seeking."
The Panthers opened the season with 10 straight losses, but four of those could have been victories.
Crookston jumped out to a 23-0 lead and led 37-14 at the half en route to a 61-39 victory while Bagley led 48-17 at the half en route to a 78-28 win.
The Panthers held a 26-21 halftime lead, but missed 20 of 28 free throws as Staples-Motley rallied for a 57-50 overtime victory in the Mid-State opener. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton jumped out to a 17-0 lead before a late rally by the Panthers fell short in a 53-43 loss.
Two conference losses followed as Crosby-Ironton jumped out to a 26-6 lead en route to an 83-39 victory while Pequot Lakes used a 43-12 lead at the half to spark a 74-31 win.
At the Park Rapids Holiday Tournament, Nevis broke open a 27-27 halftime tie for a 63-52 win while Frazee rallied from 27-23 halftime deficit for a 44-43 win for third place.
Detroit Lakes scored the first 16 points in a 78-42 conference win while Warroad led 35-19 at the half en route to a 70-53 victory.
The Panthers snapped a 29-game losing streak and a 34-game Mid-State Conference losing streak with a 62-57 win over Wadena-Deer Creek. Park Rapids led 27-23 at the half in that game.
A six-game losing streak followed as the Panthers again faced halftime deficits.
Perham ended the half with a 36-6 run to build a 47-13 advantage in an 81-23 victory. The Panthers struggled on the offensive end, but led Nevis 14-13 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 45-40 win.
Staples-Motley used a 14-0 run to claim a 27-18 lead at the half in a 63-51 victory before C-I used a 38-10 run to build a 45-18 halftime lead en route to a 72-46 win in a pair of conference games.
Pine River-Backus led 33-28 at the half in a 74-62 win while Pequot Lakes used a 19-4 run in the second half to build on a 30-18 halftime lead and spark a 63-44 win.
Park Rapids ended that losing streak by using a 23-2 run in the second half to overcome a 27-26 deficit in a 62-38 win over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
Four losses followed as Detroit Lakes led 41-20 at the half in a 73-34 win, W-DC used a 15-0 run in the second half to break open a tie game for a 67-51 victory, East Grand Forks rallied from a 28-25 halftime deficit for a 57-47 win and Pelican Rapids used a 38-4 run to build a 61-22 halftime lead en route to an 87-48 victory.
The Panthers scored 42 points in the second half to expand a 24-21 halftime lead in a 66-48 victory over Menahga.
Hawley ended the regular season by jumping out to a 53-24 halftime lead in an 83-48 win.
The Panthers received the No. 6 seed in the north for the Section 8AA tournament and lost to No. 3 Pequot Lakes 84-57 as the Patriots used an 11-0 run to build a 42-23 lead at the half.
For the season, the Panthers averaged 46.5 points a game while allowing 66.1 points a night. Park Rapids shot only 36.5 percent from the field and 49.3 percent at the free throw line while averaging 20.1 turnovers a game.
Detroit Lakes won the conference title with a 10-0 record. Pequot Lakes was next at 8-2 while Crosby-Ironton finished 6-4. Staples-Motley (3-7), W-DC (2-8) and Park Rapids (1-9) followed.
Of Park Rapids' opponents, Perham (29-3), Pelican Rapids (25-4), Bagley (23-7) and Detroit Lakes (22-8) had at least 20 wins while Hawley (17-9), C-I (17-11), Crookston (16-12) and Pequot Lakes (15-13) had winning records. Perham won the section title and finished third at the state Class AA tournament.
"We had a tendency to come out flat in the first half and then found ourselves playing catch up in the second half," said Brandt. "Shooting only 37 percent from the field is not good enough. We should have had way more points than we put up in games."
Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Ryan Peterson, Tyler Ridlon, Scott Wolff, Josh Crist and Jordan Bergquist; juniors Kyle Goplerud, Chris Goplerud, Andy Waller, Mason Long, Tanner Otterness and John Massie; and sophomores Tyler McCollum, Zach Jewison and Rilee Johnson.
Kyle Goplerud was named the Panthers' Most Valuable Player and earned all-conference honorable mention honors by leading the team in scoring at 10.1 points a game. Goplerud made 109 of 257 field goals and 31 of 57 free throws in scoring 252 points. Goplerud scored in double figures in 13 games with a high of 26. Goplerud also had 116 rebounds, 31 assists, 29 steals and 11 blocked shots in 25 games.
McCollum received all-conference honors after leading the Panthers with 33 3-pointers and finishing second on the team in scoring a 8.7 points a game. McCollum scored 218 points by making 84 of 233 field goals and 17 of 29 free throws. McCollum also had 107 rebounds, 45 steals, 28 assists and nine blocks in 25 games. McCollum hit double figures eight times with a high of 23.
Chris Goplerud also played in all 25 games and earned all-conference honorable mention honors after averaging 6.6 points a game. Goplerud scored 165 points by making 67 of 149 field goals and 28 of 51 free throws. Goplerud, who received the team's Mr. Defense award, led the Panthers with 125 rebounds, 60 steals and 48 assists. Goplerud scored in double digits seven times with a high of 13.
Waller averaged 4.8 points a game. In 25 games, Waller made 38 of 130 field goals and 44 of 91 free throws for 120 points. Waller also had 66 rebounds, 24 steals and 17 assists. Waller scored a season high 16 points.
Peterson tallied 32 points by making 11 of 43 field goals and 9 of 21 free throws and had 30 steals, 29 rebounds and 27 assists in 25 games.
Ridlon played in 21 games and averaged 4.6 points a game. Ridlon made 37 of 117 field goals and 16 of 32 free throws for 97 points. Ridlon also had 44 rebounds, 15 assists and 11 steals with a high of 11 points.
Wolff scored 102 points (4.1 per game) by making 48 of 126 field goals and 6 of 11 free throws. In 25 games, Wolff also had 64 rebounds and a team-leading 18 blocks. Wolff's season high was 11 points.
Jewison played in the final 12 games of the season, hitting 19 of 45 field goals and 10 of 26 free throws for 48 points (4.0 per game). Jewison also had 41 rebounds.
Crist played in 14 games and had 23 points and 18 rebounds while Bergquist received the team's Most Improved Player award after tallying 24 points and 21 rebounds in 17 games.
Long played in 22 games and tallied 21 points, 20 assists and 10 steals while Otterness played in 18 games and had 25 points, 15 assists and 10 steals.
Massie scored 15 points in 10 games while Johnson had 12 points and 18 rebounds in15 games.
Even though the Panthers graduate five players, Brandt is counting on the Panthers to continue improving and compile more victories next season.
"Next season could hold a lot of positives with the group that will be returning and the groups coming up. The kids really like to work hard and that is what it takes to become better basketball players," said Brandt. "We need to have a solid summer of shooting baskets. The kids have to be willing to get to the gym or be outside shooting to help improve their shot because it is very hard trying to really improve a player's shot during the season. Our defense this season was our strong point and if we can get more consistent on offense behind that, it should be a fun year for everyone."