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Mattson's late 3-pointer sinks Pirates

Paul Dirks

It felt like the Park Rapids boys basketball team had won the state championship the way the hometown fans stormed the floor following Monday night's 55-53 victory over Crookston.

The way the season had gone up to that point, Roth Mattson's 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Panthers their first win of the season was worthy of a championship-caliber celebration.

Park Rapids entered the regular-season home finale at the Area High School gym with an 0-22 record. Of those losses, 20 were by double digits. Of those losses, 16 were by at least 20 points and eight were by at least 30 points.

With 1:33 to play, it appeared the Panthers were heading for another double-digit setback as Crookston held a 50-39 lead.

That's when Park Rapids mounted its impressive comeback.

A 3-pionter by Paul Dirks with 1:21 left, a jumper by Mattson with 1:07 remaining and a 3-pointer by Mattson with 49 seconds to go closed the gap to 53-47.

Dirks hit a jumper with 24 seconds left and followed by hitting a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to make it 53-52.

After the Pirates missed two free throws, Dirks penetrated into the lane and fed Mattson for the game-winning 3-pointer as the Panthers snapped a 29-game losing streak.

"This was a huge win," said Park Rapids head coach Matt Brandt. "The kids never gave up. They deserved this win."

This game was close all night with eight lead changes and three ties.

Park Rapids jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind baskets by Dillon Theis and Mitch Long and a 3-pointer by Mattson.

After Crookston tied it at 7-7, three free throws and an inside basket by Christian Ridlon gave the Panthers 12-7 edge.

Crookston went on an 11-1 run to claim an 18-13 advantage with 5:23 to play in the first half.

The Panthers answered by ending the half with an 8-1 run as baskets by Dirks, Theis and Long led to a 21-21 tie.

A 3-pointer by Mattson and two baskets by Dirks gave Park Rapids a 31-26 lead with 14:16 remaining.

The Pirates then went on a 16-4 spurt for a 42-35 lead with 5:35 to go.

Crookston pushed that advantage into double digits before the Panthers rallied.

Dirks and Mattson scored 14 points each while Ridlon added 12 for the Panthers.

Tim Derosier (13), Josh Baldock (12) and Ben Curran (10) hit double figures for the Pirates, who fell to 11-14 on the season.

The Panthers, who closed the regular season at Hawley Friday night, earned one more home game by receiving the No. 8 seed for the Section 8AA playoffs. Park Rapids will host Frazee Monday night at 7 in a first-round game.

CROOKSTON: Derosier 3 7-10 13, Baldock 4 3-4 12, Curran 4 1-6 10, Denison 2 1-2 6, Pankow 2 1-2 5, Mykleseth 1 1-1 3, Maiga 0 2-4 2, Lyczewski 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 (FG), 16 for 29 (FT).

PARK RAPIDS: Long 2 1-3 5, Kimball 0 2-4 2, Dirks 6 0-0 14, Mattson 5 0-0 14, Brown 0 0-0 0 2, Theis 3 2-2 8, C. Ridlon 2 8-10 12. Totals: 18 (FG), 10 for 12 (FT).

Halftime: Park Rapids 21, Crookston 21. Three-point field goals: Curran 1, Baldock 1, Denison 1, Dirks 2, Mattson 4. Total fouls: Crookston 16, Park Rapids 20. Fouled out: Maiga.