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Panthers expect to become threat in section tournament

Being counted on to lead the Park Rapids girls basketball team this season are seniors (from left) Olivia McDonald, Jordan Klemmer, Kortne Byer and Jaiden McCollum. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Jeff Overmyer just missed reaching his goal in his first season as head coach of the Park Rapids girls basketball team.

Overmyer is confident the Panthers will reach that goal this season.

A year ago, the Panthers went 1-7 in Mid-State Conference games and 11-13 overall to earn the No. 10 seed for the Section 8AA tournament. Park Rapids opened the playoffs with an 86-69 win over No. 7 Pelican Rapids before falling to No. 2 Staples-Motley 66-44 in the second round. That gave the Panthers a 12-14 overall record, just missing Overmyer's goal of a .500 season.

With seven key players returning, Overmyer is counting on the Panthers to have a winning record, move up in the conference standings and become a threat in the section playoffs.

Returning to lead the Panthers are seniors Jaiden McCollum, Jordan Klemmer and Kortne Byer; juniors Kaisa Coborn and Kendra Coborn; and sophomores Paige Johnson and Rilee Michaelson. That group helped Park Rapids average 62.4 points a game while allowing 58.7 points a night last season. The Panthers shot 37.2 percent from the field and 53.7 percent at the free-throw line while averaging 18.2 turnovers a game.

McCollum led a balanced scoring attack by averaging 14.6 points a game. McCollum scored 380 points in 26 games to surpass 1,000 in her career while also leading the team with 229 rebounds, 113 assists and 78 steals. McCollum was the team's MVP and an all-conference player.

Michaelson was second on the team in scoring with 295 points (11.3 points a night) and in rebounds with 180 while leading the Panthers with 22 blocked shots. Michaelson also had 47 steals and 33 assists in 26 games and earned all-conference honorable mention honors.

Kaisa Coborn was fourth in scoring with 235 points (9.0 per game) with 114 rebounds, 99 assists and 69 steals in 26 games. Coborn was second on the team by making 24 3-pointers.

Kendra Coborn followed with 129 points (5.4 per game) while adding 71 assists, 60 rebounds and 31 steals in 24 games. Coborn was third on the team with 11 3-pointers made.

Paige Johnson played in 21 games and tallied 99 points (4.7 per game), 64 rebounds, 20 steals and 12 assists.

Klemmer tallied 42 points, 28 rebounds and 19 steals in 25 games while Byer had 35 points, 40 rebounds and 17 steals in 24 games.

Also returning after seeing varsity time last season are senior Olivia McDonald (9 points, 19 rebounds in 17 games) and juniors Julia Johnson (18 points in eight games), Natalie Kinkel (8 points in 10 games) and Whitney Steffel (4 points in seven games).

"This group is the most athletic group we've had on the court in years," said Overmyer, who will be assisted by Joel Steffel and Megan Cole. "These girls have a high basketball IQ and the attitude and chemistry of this team is so positive. We're going to press, play really good defense and play fast-paced basketball."

The Panthers have two key positions to fill with the graduation of Macky Warne and Megan Jewison. Warne led the Panthers with 71 3-pointers and finished third in scoring at 10.4 points a night while Jewison averaged 2.5 points with 53 rebounds. Both started all 26 games.

Rounding out the junior varsity and C squad rosters are junior Gracie Eischens; sophomores Autumn Mitchell and Maddie Soldwisch; and freshmen Brooke Knutson, Katie Burlingame, Tyla Norcross, Amber Berndt, Brynn McComas, Avryl Thornton, Haley Pickar, Laila Nelmark, Hannah Morgan, Madisyn Nevala and Ellie Ulvin.

Staples-Motley won the conference title with a 7-1 record last season while Pequot Lakes (6-2), Crosby-Ironton (3-5) and Detroit Lakes (3-5) followed. Roseau defeated Staples-Motley in the section title game and went on to cap off an undefeated season by winning the state Class AA title.

Overmyer is counting on the Panthers to contend for the conference title and make a run at winning the section title this season.

"There are a number of teams in the section that can beat us if we don't play well, but If the girls all have a good game, there isn't a team in the section that we can't beat," said Overmyer. "I expect us to have a successful season. I think we have a legitimate shot at winning the conference championship and making it to the section championship game."

SEASON SCHEDULE

Nov. 28 - at Crosby-Ironton, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1 - *Aitkin, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 - *Staples-Motley, 8 p.m. Dec. 15 - *Detroit Lakes, 7:15 p.m. Dec. 19 - *Pelican Rapids, 7:15 p.m. Dec. 21 - *Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27-28 - at Pelican Rapids tournament.

Jan. 5 - at Warroad, 6 p.m. Jan. 6 - at Roseau, 1:30 p.m. Jan. 9 - at Detroit Lakes, 7:15 p.m. Jan. 12 - at Staples-Motley, 7:15 p.m. Jan. 16 - at Perham, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 - *Crosby-Ironton, 7:15 p.m. Jan. 23 - at Pequot Lakes, 7:15 p.m. Jan. 25 - at Nevis, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29 - *Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 1 - at Frazee, 7:30 p.m Feb. 3 - vs. Breckenridge at Fargo Civic Center, 6:45 p.m. Feb. 9 - at Aitkin, 7:15 p.m. Feb. 13 - *Pequot Lakes, 7:15 p.m. Feb. 15 - *Bagley, 7:15 p.m. Feb. 20 - *Wadena-Deer Creek, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 - *Menahga, 7:30 p.m.

*=home games

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