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Panthers hit clutch shots down stretch to top Tigers

Nevis' Hannah Bliss drove to the basket as Park Rapids' Megan Grimes defended during Thursday night's game.1 / 2
Nevis' Jordan Walters brought the ball upcourt against Park Rapids' pressure defense during Thursday night's game.2 / 2

Charity Ridlon hit four free throws down the stretch to put the finishing touches on Park Rapids' 51-45 victory over the Nevis girls basketball team Thursday night at the Century School gym.

"The win over Nevis was a great success for my team. This season the one word I keep repeating to the girls is to 'believe.' They need to believe in their abilities, believe that their hard work will pay off, and believe and trust in each other," said Park Rapids head coach Tina Ridlon. "The win over Nevis proves they are beginning to believe they can achieve success."

A basket by Park Rapids' Tori Lauderbaugh and a 3-pointer by Katie Klein were offset by baskets by Mattie Hjelseth and Megan Norby as Nevis held an early 6-5 lead.

Baskets by Klein and Megan Grimes gave the Panthers a 9-6 lead with 14:31 to play in the first half. The Panthers would lead the rest of the game.

After a basket by Norby, the Panthers went on a 16-5 run as a 3-pointer and two jumpers by Ridlon, three baskets by Bria Wolff and a jumper by Klein produced a 25-13 lead with 3:30 to play in the first half. A jumper by Karly Drury and two free throws by Riley Hanson pulled Nevis to within 26-19 at the half.

The Panthers extended their lead to 32-19 behind two jumpers by Ridlon and a jumper by Klein. After a pair of inside baskets by Norby, layups by Klein and Lauderbaugh gave the Panthers a 37-23 advantage with 10:09 to play.

Consecutive three-point plays by Norby, a layup by Hjelseth, a 3-pointer by Diana Schuldt, and layups by Norby and Hanson sparked a 15-6 run as the Tigers cut the gap to 43-38 with 2:17 remaining.

A basket off a rebound by Lauderbaugh and two free throws by Klein expanded the Panthers' advantage to 48-38 with 46 seconds to play. After a layup by Hanson and a 3-pointer by Schuldt made it 49-43 with 21 seconds left, Ridlon's two free throws with 15 seconds remaining sealed the win.

Ridlon finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Klein added 13 points and six steals to lead the Panthers. Grimes grabbed nine rebounds and Wolff had four steals as Park Rapids improved to 5-13 on the season.

Norby had 18 points while Hanson added 12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots for the Tigers, who fell to 7-9 on the year.

NEVIS: Norby 7 4-4 18, Dierkhising 0 2-2 2, Hanson 5 2-4 12, Walters 0 0-0 0, Bliss 0 0-0 0, Schuldt 2 0-0 6, Drury 1 1-2 3, Hjelseth 2 0-0 4. Totals: 17 for 53 (FG), 9 for 12 (FT).

PARK RAPIDS: Grimes 2 0-0 4, Klein 5 2-3 13, Lauderbaugh 2 1-2 5, Ridlon 6 5-10 18, Wolff 3 1-2 7, H. Johnson 0 2-5 2, G. Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 for 53 (FG), 11 for 22 (FT).

Halftime: Park Rapids 26, Nevis 19. Three-point field goals: Schuldt 2, Klein 1, Ridlon 1. Team fouls: Nevis 21, Park Rapids 16. Fouled out: Walters. Rebounds: Nevis 28 (Hanson 10, Hjelseth 7, Norby 6, Dierkhising 2, Drury 2, Bliss 1); Park Rapids 40 (Ridlon 11, Grimes 9, Lauderbaugh 6, Wolff 6, Klein 5, G. Johnson 2, H. Johnson 1). Assists: Nevis 13 (Hanson 7, Norby 4, Dierkhising 1, Hjelseth 1); Park Rapids 3 (H. Johnson 1, Grimes 1, Klein 1). Steals: Nevis 9 (Hjelseth 4, Dierkhising 2, Hanson 1, Drury 1, Norby 1); Park Rapids 14 (Klein 6, Wolff 4, Grimes 2, H. Johnson 1, Ridlon 1). Blocked shots: Nevis 5 (Hanson 4, Hjelseth 1); Park Rapids 1 (Ridlon). Turnovers: Nevis 23, Park Rapids 18.