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Panthers open 8AA tourney at Pequot

Park Rapids received the No. 7 seed and will open the Section 8AA boys basketball tournament at No. 2 Pequot Lakes Thursday night at 7.

The Panthers, who ended the regular season with a 6-19 record, lost to Pequot Lakes by scores of 68-50 and 78-30 during the regular season. Pequot Lakes enters the tournament with an 18-8 record.

Thursday's other first-round games in the East half of the section pit No. 8 Bagley (2-23) at No. 1 Crosby-Ironton (23-3), No. 5 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (9-15) at No. 4 Roseau (12-13), and No. 6 Pine River-Backus (8-17) at No. 3 Warroad (16-8).

The winners advance to the East semifinals at Bemidji High School Saturday night.

In the West half, Thursday's first round has No. 1 Pelican Rapids (26-0) hosting No. 8 Frazee (1-23), No. 2 East Grand Forks (17-8) hosting No. 7 Crookston (8-17), No. 3 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (17-9) hosting No. 6 Perham (11-14), and No. 4 Hawley (16-9) hosting No. 5 Wadena-Deer Creek (14-10). The West semifinals will be held at Concordia College Saturday night.

Hawley controls second half

A 13-0 run early in the second half broke open a close game as Hawley ended the regular season with an 89-58 victory over the Panthers Friday night at the Area High School gym.

Jacob Bjornson opened the game by hitting two layups and a 3-pointer to give Hawley a 7-0 lead and three inside baskets by Taylor Harms pushed the lead to 18-5 at the 12:19 mark.

A layup by Dylan Walsh, a basket off a rebound by Kevin Vaadeland, two free throw by Walsh, a 3-pointer by Jacob Swenson and a layup by Paul Dirks helped the Panthers cut the deficit to 20-14 with 8:50 remaining.

A layup by Dillon Theis, a layup off a steal by Walsh, another layup off a steal by Dirks, a 3-pointer by Vaadeland and a jumper by Vaadeland pulled Park Rapids to within 28-25 with 3:37 to go in the first half. Hawley went on an 8-1 run before a layup by Vaadeland made it 36-28 at the break.

Layups by Walsh and Dirks pulled the Panthers to within 36-32 with 16:45 to play, but Hawley regained control with a 13-0 run. That made it 49-32 with 12:35 to go.

Despite a jumper by Walsh, two 3-pointers by Taylor Kimball, and a 3-pointer and jumper by Swenson, the Panthers trailed 63-45 with 8:21 remaining.

The Nuggets closed the game with a 25-15 run. Vaadeland had a layup and alley-oop dunk on a pass from Walsh, Cameron Theis had two layups and Christian Ridlon had a basket off a rebound for the Panthers.

Sorenson scored 23 points and Harms added 17 points to lead the Nuggets, who hit 36 of 50 shots to improve to 16-9 on the season.

Vaadeland had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots while Swenson added 10 points for the Panthers. Dirks had seven steals and Walsh had four assists as the Panthers ended the regular season with a 1-15 record in its last 16 games.

Panthers fall to Pirates

A 12-4 run late in the game sealed Crookston's 57-48 victory over the Panthers last Tuesday night at Crookston.

Park Rapids used baskets by four baskets by Vaadeland to jump out to a 13-8 lead before the Pirates closed out the first half with an 18-9 run.

Crookston pushed its lead to 40-30 before Walsh hit a 3-pointer and jumper to pull the Panthers to within 40-35. The Pirates responded with a 12-4 run to claim a 52-39 lead.

Vaadeland had 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the Panthers. Dirks had seven steals and Walsh led the way with three assists.

Jake Thompson (15), Ben Curran (14) and Carter Denison (12) scored in double figures to lead Crookston, which improved to 7-17.