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Breckenridge defeats Panthers in first round

Noah Christensen's 26 points, 15 rebounds and six assists sparked Breckenridge to an 87-56 victory over the Park Rapids boys basketball team in the first round of the Section 8AA playoffs March 7 at Breckenridge.

Caden McCough added 19 points and six steals while Jonah Christensen chipped in 10 points for the Cowboys, who broke open a 31-26 halftime lead by outscoring Park Rapids 56-30 in the second half. Breckenridge, the No. 4 seed in the South, advanced with a 15-11 record.

Gabe Bagstad's 24 points and three steals and Nick Michaelson's 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals led the Panthers. Preston Renneberg had five rebounds and Tristin Persons had three assists as Park Rapids, the No. 5 seed in the South, ended the season with an 8-17 record.

"We played a solid first half. We were able to keep them off their mark and play under control. We made sure to body Noah up and not let him crash the boards so hard. The first half was a very fast-paced game and their defense was making us work even harder and they did a nice job of getting us tired. The guys who played big minutes talked about being very tired at half due to the pace and physicality of the game," said Park Rapids head coach Matt Brandt, whose team turned the ball over 34 times in the game. "In the second half, we started with two turnovers and that set the tone. We got flustered by their defense and let it get the best of us. We were playing tired and when we get tired, our mental strength goes down and we made a lot of mental mistakes. We lost Noah on defense and were not as physical with him and he took over the game. I was proud of the kids for battling for 36 minutes. They definitely left everything on the floor."

PARK RAPIDS: Moses 0 0-0 0, Reish 0 2-2 2, Renneberg 1 0-2 2, Hagen 0 0-0 0, H. Brandt 1 0-0 3, Clark 0 0-0 0, Bagstad 10 1-2 24, Karger 0 0-0 0, Persons 0 4-4 4, Michaelson 5 1-2 11, K. Brandt 0 0-0 0, Ohm 3 0-0 6, Walsh 1 0-0 2, Harmon 0 0-0 0, Wolff 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 for 45 (FG), 8 for 12 (FT).

Halftime: Breckenridge 31, Park Rapids 26. Three-pointers: H. Brandt 1, Bagstad 3. Rebounds: Park Rapids 31 (Michaelson 8, Renenberg 5, K. Brandt 4, Ohm 4, Reish 3, Bagstad 3, Persons 2, Wolff 2). Assists: Park Rapids 7 (Persons 3, Bagstad 2, Michaelson 1, Walsh 1). Steals: Park Rapids 9 (Bagstad 3, Michaelson 3, Reish 2, Wolff 1). Blocked shots: Park Rapids 3 (Reish 1, Renneberg 1, Bagstad 1). Team fouls: Park Rapids 22. Fouled out: Ohm. Turnovers: Park Rapids 34.