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Second-half spurt lifts W-H-A past Panthers

Three-pointers by Brandon Tharp and Brandon Zimmer at the start of the second half gave Walker-Hackensack-Akeley the lead for good as the Wolves defeated the Park Rapids boys basketball team 66-56 Thursday night at the Area High School gym.

The Panthers played a solid first half in settling for a 31-31 tie at the break.

Layups by Paul Dirks and Dillon Theis, two free throws by Roth Mattson and a jumper by Max Brown gave the Panthers an 8-6 lead with 14:09 to play in the first half.

Jumpers by Dirks and Brown, two more free throws by Mattson and a layup off a rebound by Christian Ridlon led to a 16-16 tie at the 8:16 mark.

A 3-pointer by Tharp sparked an 11-4 run as the Wolves claimed a 27-20 lead with 3:17 to play in the first half. Ridlon and Dirks had layups for the Panthers during that stretch.

Park Rapids countered with an 11-4 run of its own to tie the game at the intermission. Consecutive layups by Theis, Mattson and Dirks made it 27-26 with 2:01 remaining before two inside baskets by Zach Tooker gave W-H-A a 31-26 edge with 1:16 left. Brown hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds to go before Mitch Long's layup with 32 seconds left knotted the game.

Three-pointers by Tharp and Zimmer gave W-H-A a 38-31 lead with 16:06 to play. The Wolves would lead the rest of the game.

A basket off a rebound by Ridlon and layups by Dirks, Mattson and Brown pulled the Panthers to within 44-41 with 9:36 remaining. The Wolves then went on a 12-3 for a 56-44 advantage with 5:16 to play.

The Panthers made one last charge as layups by Mattson, Long and Dirks and a jumper by Dirks cut the deficit to 59-52 with 3:17 to play.

Two free throws and a layup by Dirks were the only points the Panthers scored the rest of the way as W-H-A prevailed.

Dirks scored 18 points and Mattson added 13 points for the Panthers, who fell to 0-18 on the season.

Tharp (17), Zimmer (16), Tooker (12) and Skye Tikayne (10) hit double figures for the Wolves, who improved to 8-11.

W-H-A: Zimmer 5 4-7 16, Munson 2 0-0 4, Tharp 6 2-7 17, Leger 2 1-2 5, Grimley 1 0-0 2, Tikayne 4 2-3 10, Tooker 6 0-1 12. Totals: 26 (FG), 9 for 20 (FT).

PARK RAPIDS: Long 2 0-0 4, Kimball 0 0-0 0, Dirks 8 2-2 18, T. Ridlon 0 0-0 0, Mattson 4 5-9 13, Brown 4 0-0 9, C Goplerud 0 0-2 0, Theis 2 0-0 4, C. Ridlon 3 2-8 8, K. Goplerud 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 (FG), 9 for 21 (FT).

Halftime: Park Rapids 31, W-H-A 31. Three-point field goals: Zimmer 2, Tharp 3, Brown 1.