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Missed free throws prove costly to Panthers

Roth Mattson (15) drove to the basket during last Wednesday's game against Sauk Centre. (Vance Carlson / Enterprise)

Missing 20 of 32 free throws cost the Park Rapids boys basketball team a chance to play for the title in the 9th annual Park Rapids Holiday Tournament last week.

The Panthers missed eight free throws after regulation as Frazee escaped with a 74-73 double-overtime victory last Tuesday night in the semifinals.

In last Wednesday night's third-place game, the Panthers made only 4 of 15 free throws in a 43-27 loss to Sauk Centre.

The two losses dropped Park Rapids to 0-7 on the season entering Friday's home game with Warroad. The Panthers host Roseau Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at the Century School gym.

Frazee prevails in overtime

Frazee hit the clutch shots when it counted to advance to the championship game.

Beau Hanson's 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in regulation forced overtime, Dylan Stender's two free throws with :09 remaining forced a second overtime and Stender's jumper with :04 showing in the second overtime proved to be the game-winner for the Hornets.

The Panthers had plenty of chances to win this game in regulation and both overtimes, but couldn't convert the clutch shots.

A jumper and layup off a steal by Paul Dirks and a jumper and 3-pointer by Roth Mattson gave the Panthers a 9-6 lead.

Frazee countered with a 12-2 run as Hanson hit two 3-pointers and Stender hit a 3-pointer. With 9:33 to play in the first half, the Hornets held an 18-11 lead.

That would prove to be the biggest lead for either team the rest of the way.

A 3-pointer by Taylor Kimball, a layup off a steal by Christian Ridlon, layups by Mitch Long and Dirks, and a 3-pointer by Dirks sparked a 12-0 run as the Panthers claimed a 23-18 lead with 3:10 left in the first half.

Layups by Kyle Goplerud and Dirks gave Park Rapids a 27-22 lead at the break.

A 3-pointer by Hanson helped Frazee tie the game at 29-29 before two layups by Kimball gave Park Rapids a 37-33 lead at the 10:39 mark.

A 3-pointer by Chris Burt gave the Hornets a 40-37 edge at the 9:25 mark before two baskets apiece by Ridlon and Dirks gave Park Rapids a 45-40 lead with 7:15 to play.

The Panthers still held a 49-44 lead with 4:42 remaining, but four missed free throws down the stretch enabled Hanson to tie the game and force overtime.

Ridlon's two baskets inside gave the Panthers a 59-55 lead with 2:29 to play in the first extra session. Two free throws by Long made it 62-59 with 1:01 left, but five missed free throws in the final 51 seconds gave Frazee the chance to rally. Matt Brower's layup with 38 seconds to go and Stender's two free throws with :09 showing tied the game at 63-63 and forced another four-minute overtime.

A layup by Long and two free throws by Ridlon gave the Panthers a 67-65 lead at the 2:51 mark before a 3-pointer by Matt Woodard gave the Hornets a 68-67 lead with 2:33 to play.

A layup and two free throws by Stender offset baskets by Max Brown and Ridlon as Frazee held a 72-71 lead with 41 seconds to play.

A layup by Brown gave the Panthers a 73-72 lead with 28 seconds to go. After Park Rapids missed two free throws with 11 seconds left, Stender hit the game-winning baseline jumper to give Frazee the win.

Dirks scored 23 points and Ridlon had a career-high 22 points to lead the Panthers. Kimball also hit double figures with 10 points.

Stenger scored a game-high 26 points to lead three players in double figures as Frazee improved to 1-7 on the season.

Defense lifts Sauk Centre

Sauk Centre held the Panthers to their lowest output of the season as the Mainstreeters prevailed in the third-place game.

The Mainstreeters jumped out to a 6-0 lead before a 3-pointer and two layups by Kimball, three baskets by Dirks and a basket by Goplerud pulled the Panthers to within 18-17. Sauk Centre carried a 20-17 lead into the break.

Neither team produced much offense in the first part of the second half. The Panthers were held without a field goal until Ridlon scored inside with 8:27 remaining. Despite that lack of offense, the Panthers were within 30-21.

Two layups by Dirks cut the margin to 32-25 with 7:21 to play and Ridlon hit a jumper to make it 34-27 with 6:16 to go.

However, the Panthers would not score the rest of the way as Sauk Centre pulled away.

Isaac Winters scored 17 points to lead Sauk Centre, which improved to 1-6 on the year.

Dirks had 13 points and was the only player in double figures for the Panthers.

Panthers fall at Pine River

The inside-outside combination of Jordan Ackerman and Jordan Farmer was too much for the Panthers at Pine River on Dec. 22.

Ackerman had 15 points and 22 rebounds while Farmer hit three 3-pointers and finished with 19 points to lead Pine River-Backus to a 63-50 victory.

Nathan Holm added 12 points as the Tigers improved to 2-5 on the season.

Dirks scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Panthers.