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Panthers defeat Braves

Menahga's Tanner Schwartz (3) tried to drive around Park Rapids' Andy Waller and Tyler McCollum (52) during Tuesday night's game.1 / 2
Park Rapids' Jordan Bergquist (left) and Menahga's Justin Luedke (53) battled for a rebound during Tuesday night's game.2 / 2

Putting on a full-court press provided a spark in the second half that propelled the Park Rapids boys basketball team to its third win of the season Tuesday night.

The Panthers forced 18 Menahga turnovers, most of those during a 42-point second half, that led to a 66-48 win at the Area High School gym. The 66 points in a game and 42 points in the second half were season highs for the Panthers.

A 19-11 run to open the second half gave the Panthers a 43-32 lead with 9:12 to play. The Panthers would lead by double digits the rest of the way.

Park Rapids opened the game by jumping out to a quick 10-5 lead. A jumper by Ryan Peterson, a basket off a rebound by Chris Goplerud and a layup by Andy Waller gave the Panthers the early lead at the 12:58 mark. Inside baskets by Tanner Schwartz and Justin Luedke led the Braves.

Menahga rallied as a layup by Markus Tolkkinen and three straight baskets by Schwartz provided a 13-10 advantage. A layup by Goplerud, a jumper by Tyler McCollum, a basket off a rebound by Scott Wolff, and two free throws apiece by Waller and Zach Jewison gave the Panthers a 20-18 edge with 2:36 to play in the first half.

After a layup by Tolkkinen gave Menahga a 21-20 lead at the 1:27 mark, a layup by Waller at the 1:09 mark gave the Panthers the lead for good. Kyle Goplerud's jumper with :04 showing gave Park Rapids a 24-21 edge at the break.

Josh Crist and Chris Goplerud scored off rebounds and Kyle Goplerud followed with a layup as the Panthers extended their lead to 30-22 with 15:39 to play.

A jumper by Stetson Burkman ended that run, but the Panthers used a jumper by Waller and two baskets by Kyle Goplerud to claim a 36-26 lead with 13:20 to play.

Layups by Burkman and Tolkkinen kept the Braves within 37-30 with 11:06 to go, but layups by Waller and Chris Goplerud and a layup off a steal by Chris Goplerud pushed the lead to 43-32 with 9:12 to play.

Luedke scored inside for Menahga, but a layup by McCollum, jumpers by Kyle Goplerud and Jewison, and two free throws by Chris Goplerud made it 52-35 with 5:52 left.

Schwartz hit two free throws and Tolkkinen scored inside as the Braves trailed 52-39 with 4:57 left. A jumper by Jewison, two free throws by Waller, two inside baskets by Jordan Bergquist, a jumper by Wolff and two free throws by Jewison extended the lead to 66-47 with 1:04 remaining. Schwartz's 3-pointer at the 3:33 mark was the only field goal for Menahga in the final 4:56.

"We played very physical and aggressive. The kids worked so hard and the full-court press we put on worked very well to our advantage," said Park Rapids head coach Matt Brandt. "The main reason the press worked was due to the hustle and proper rotation of the kids. The kids played well. They had the drive and determination to win."

Tolkkinen finished with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists while Schwartz added 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals to lead the Braves, who fell to 10-13 on the season. Luedke and Burkman added six rebounds each while Austen Schwartz had four assists.

Chris Goplerud's 13 points, nine steals, six rebounds and five assists led the Panthers. Waller also scored 13 points, Kyle Goplerud had 11 points, McCollum and Jewison combined for 16 points, Wolff and McCollum grabbed five rebounds each, and Peterson had three assists and three steals to lead a balanced attack for Park Rapids, which improved to 3-20.

"The kids know when they execute plays and rotate properly on defense they can be tough and that is what they did to help us get the win," said Brandt. "It was all-around a good basketball game. The kids elevated their play to another level. This was a great win for the kids, especially heading down the stretch. We hope to continue this run into the playoffs."

MENAHGA: T. Schwartz 5 4-4 15, Tolkkinen 5 8-10 18, Aho 0 1-4 1, Burkman 2 0-0 4, Luedke 3 2-4 8, J. Skoog 0 1-2 1, Burgau 0 0-0 0, A. Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Junes 0 1-2 1, Rudquist 0 0-0 0, L. Schwartz 0 0-1 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 for 34 (FG), 17 for 27 (FT).

PARK RAPIDS: Bergquist 2 0-0 4, Peterson 1 0-0 2, C. Goplerud 4 5-6 13, Wolff 2 0-0 4, McCollum 3 2-2 8, Otterness 0 1-2 1, Long 0 0-0 0, Crist 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0, K. Goplerud 5 1-4 11, Waller 4 5-7 13, Jewison 2 4-5 8, Massie 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 for 67 (FG), 18 for 26 (FT).

Halftime: Park Rapids 24, Menahga 21. Three-point field goals: T. Schwartz 1. Team fouls: Menahga 22, Park Rapids 20. Fouled out: Tolkkinen, Peterson. Rebounds: Menahga 31 (T. Schwartz 8, Tolkkinen 6, Luedke 6, Burkman 6, Aho 2, L. Schwartz 2, A. Schwartz 1); Park Rapids 33 (C. Goplerud 6, Wolff 5, McCollum 5, K. Goplerud 3, Jewison 3, Long 2, Bergquist 2, Crist 2, Peterson 2, Waller 2, Otterness 1). Assists: Menahga 10 (Tolkkinen 5, A. Schwartz 4, Aho 1); Park Rapids 14 (C. Goplerud 5, Peterson 3, McCollum 2, Bergquist 1, Crist 1, K. Goplerud 1, Waller 1). Steals: Menahga 13 (T. Schwartz 3, Burkman 3, Tolkkinen 2, Aho 2, A. Schwartz 2, Junes 1); Park Rapids 18 (C. Goplerud 9, Peterson 3, McCollum 2, Long 1, Crist 1, K. Goplerud 1, Waller 1). Blocked shots: Menahga 3 (T. Schwartz 1, Burkman 1, Aho 1). Turnovers: Menahga 18, Park Rapids 19.