Both Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes knew the winner of Thursday night’s game would be in control of capturing the Mid-State Conference girls basketball title.
The Panthers seemed in control of guaranteeing at least a share of the conference crown by holding a 48-39 lead with 10:00 to play, but Detroit Lakes ended the game with a 21-7 run for a 60-55 victory at the Area High School gym on Feb. 13.
That win avenged a 63-55 loss to Park Rapids on Jan. 7 and gave the Lakers a 7-1 record in conference play with two games to go. The Panthers fell to 7-2 in conference games with one game remaining.
Both teams went on runs in the first half before Park Rapids carried a 33-27 lead into the break.
A layup by Abby Morris, a jumper and two layups by Paige Johnson, and a pair of layups by Rilee Michaelson gave the Panthers a 13-8 lead with 13:13 to go. A 3-pointer by Abby Larson and back-to-back three-point plays by Alex Bettcher and Kylee Price put Detroit Lakes in front 17-13 at the 9:59 mark. Two inside baskets by Bettcher gave the Lakers a 23-17 advantage with 5:55 showing before Park Rapids closed the half with a 16-4 run behind a pair of 3-pointers and a layup by Hannah Morgan, a layup by Johnson, a layup and a jumper by Tori Weaver, and a jumper by Michaelson.
Weaver scored off a rebound and Johnson followed with a layup as the Panthers led 37-28 with 14:25 to go. The Lakers responded as a layup by Bettcher was followed by a layup off a steal and a 3-pointer by Sarah Tangen to make it 39-37 with 12:35 remaining. A layup by Johnson, a 3-pointer by Weaver and two free throws apiece by Johnson and Michaelson gave Park Rapids a 48-39 lead before the Lakers rallied.
Larson started the comeback by hitting a jumper while a 3-pointer by Tangen and jumpers by Bettcher and Tangen cut the gap to 50-48 with 6:36 left. Two free throws by Michaelson kept the Panthers in front 53-49 with 4:35 to play before Detroit Lakes took a 56-53 lead with 2:57 showing on a layup by Bettcher and a 3-pointer and a jumper by Tangen.
Holly Johnson hit two free throws to make it 56-55 with 2:37 to play, but the Panthers missed four free throws while Detroit Lakes made four free throws to seal the win.
Tangen (20), Bettcher (19) and Larson (10) scored in double figures for the Lakers, who evened their record at 11-11.
Michaelson posted a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five assists while Paige Johnson had 14 points, five rebounds and four steals. Weaver scored 13 points while hauling down eight rebounds, Morris dished out four assists and Katie Burlingame had three steals. The Panthers, who turned the ball over 22 times while forcing 23 turnovers, missed 11 free throws in falling to 11-13.
The Panthers can still win or share the conference title by defeating Pequot Lakes in the regular-season finale and having Detroit Lakes lose to either Aitkin or Crosby-Ironton. Pequot Lakes defeated the Panthers 70-62 on Jan. 14 while Detroit Lakes defeated Aitkin 72-49 and Crosby-Ironton 54-50 earlier this season.