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Considering injuries kept the Park Rapids gymnastics team from fielding its best lineup most of the season, the Panthers scored consistently all season. Injuries resulted in the Panthers missing key gymnasts in eight of the 13 meets. Those injuries resulted in Park Rapids surpassing 120 points only once. On the positive side, those injuries enabled some younger gymnasts to compete at the varsity level.
Nolan Toft's four consecutive baskets midway through the first half gave Nevis the lead for good as the Tigers eliminated Menahga from the Section 5A boys basketball tournament with a 77-61 victory Thursday night at the Tiger Arena. Menahga, the No. 6 seed in the west half of the section, held the lead until the 8:17 mark of the first half before Toft sparked the No.
Chris Albee was looking for the Park Rapids-Menahga-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team to continue to close the gap on the other teams in Section 8A. Despite matching last year's total of one win against section opponents, the Panthers did close the gap on the other teams in the section. Last season, the Panthers went 1-7 in the section en route to an 8-14 overall record. Park Rapids was shut out three times in those games while being outscored 47-7. This season, the Panthers had a 1-9 record against section opponents, but were only shut out twice in being outscored 33-13.
Missed free throws cost the Park Rapids boys basketball team a victory in the first meeting against Frazee this season. The Panthers made sure missing clutch free throws down the stretch wouldn't be a factor in the rematch Monday night. Back in December, the Panthers missed 20 of 32 free throws in a 74-73 double-overtime loss to Frazee. In the Section 8AA South playoff opener Monday night at the Area High School gym, the Panthers missed 15 of 39 free throws.
Jared Nash and John Drury were looking to cap off their senior seasons by bringing home medals from the state Class A wrestling tournament. Both Park Rapids seniors completed that mission. Nash finished fourth at 171 pounds and Drury finished sixth at 189 pounds Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center to give the Panthers two state placewinners. Two other Park Rapids wrestlers also qualified for their first state trip.
Nevis and Menahga had their girls basketball seasons come to an end with losses in the Section 5A West quarterfinals Thursday night. Nevis, the No. 5 seed, opened the playoffs with a 36-25 loss at No. 4 Pine River-Backus while No. 9 Menahga was eliminated with a 74-41 loss at No. 1 Bertha-Hewitt. Menahga opened the playoffs with a 63-43 win at No.
The Nevis boys basketball team ended the regular season by defeating two Section 5A rivals and losing two tough games to state-ranked teams. Nevis had a shot to share the Northland Conference title on Feb. 26, but Cass Lake used a 15-0 run in the second half to spark an 84-75 victory at the Tiger Arena. That loss dropped Nevis to 11-3 in the conference while Cass Lake, which is rated No. 6 in the latest state Class A poll, improved to 12-1.
Derek Pihlaja's 22 points and eight assists led the Menahga boys basketball team in a 78-67 loss to Eagle Valley in the regular-season finale Thursday night at Menahga. Tom Gruchow added 18 points and nine rebounds while Marlin Aho had 16 points, 11 rebounds and four steals for the Braves, who ended the regular season with a 14-10 record. Markus Tolkkinen and Ben Skoog chipped in four assists each for Menahga. MENAHGA: Pihlaja 7 6-8 22, Gruchow 8 2-4 18, Aho 8 0-0 16, Tolkkinen 3 0-3 6, M. Skoog 1 0-0 3, B. Skoog 1 0-0 2, Dormanen 0 0-0 0, W. Skoog 0 0-0 0.
Park Rapids' Danny Pike, Jared Nash, John Drury and Kenny Weaver used runner-up finishes at the Section 8A wrestling tournament at Glyndon Saturday to earn their first trips to the state Class A tournament. All four took different routes to reach the same destination. Drury (the No. 2 seed at 189 pounds) and Weaver (the No. 2 seed at heavyweight) won their first two matches to advance to the finals and qualified despite losing in their title matches. Nash (the No. 1 seed at 171) also won his first two matches, but lost in the finals and had to prevail in a true-second match to qualify.
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.