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Panthers stay competitive against state's No. 8-ranked Calss AA team

Max Brown (35), Christian Ridlon (45) and Cameron Theis went after a rebound Tuesday night. (Vance Carlson / Enterprise)

Joe Morgan was pleased with the performance of the Park Rapids boys basketball team against the state's No. 8-ranked Class AA team Tuesday night.

The Panthers trailed 37-26 at the half before Crosby-Ironton went on a 13-4 run after the break to spark to a 69-46 Mid-State Conference victory at the Area High School gym.

"We're playing harder and competing better," said Morgan.

Baskets by Dylan Walsh and Dillon Theis, two baskets by Kevin Vaadeland, a 3-pointer by Paul Dirks, two field goals by Walsh, another 3-pointer by Dirks, two more baskets by Walsh and a jumper by Theis kept the Panthers within 37-26 at the break. Matthew Hudrlik, Mark Hoge and Sam Baker scored eight points apiece to lead the Rangers.

A jumper and 3-pointer by Baker and two baskets by Hoge helped C-I push its lead to 50-30 with 13:11 to play. Two inside baskets by Vaadeland, two layups by Dirks, three free throws by Jacob Swenson and two inside baskets by Christian Ridlon led the Panthers down the stretch.

Vaadeland led the Panthers with 14 points and nien rebounds while Dirks and Walsh chipped in 10 points each as Park Rapids fell to 0-9 in the conference and 6-15 overall.

Hoge (16), Brock Tesdahl (14), Baker (13) and Hudrlik (12) scored in double figures for the Rangers, who improved to 7-2 in the conference and 21-2 overall.

The Panthers, who hosted Detroit Lakes in another conference game Friday night, will host Bemidji tonight (Saturday) and will travel to Crookston Tuesday night.