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Panthers advance with win over EGF

The Park Rapids girls basketball team made 35 free throws in a 74-61 Section 8AA playoff victory.

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Park Rapids' Tori Weaver and Abby Morris trapped East Grand Forks' Brynn Havis at halfcourt during a Section 8AA playoff game at the Area High School gym on Wednesday, March 17. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

The ability to draw fouls and make free throws sent the Park Rapids girls basketball team to the second round of the Section 8AA tournament.

Park Rapids made 35 of 54 free throws, including going 19 for 28 in the final 6:12, to eliminate East Grand Forks with a 74-61 victory at the Area High School gym in the playoff opener for both teams on Wednesday, March 17.

The guard trio of Abby Morris, Mickey Clark and Tori Weaver combined to shoot 41 free throws and score 52 points for the Panthers, who earned a home playoff game as the No. 3 seed in the North.

Weaver opened the game with a jumper and a 3-pointer, Morris connected on a 3-pointer and Hannah Morgan scored on a layup as Park Rapids jumped out to an 11-5 lead with 11:17 to play in the first half. After EGF tied the game at 12-12, a 3-pointer by Gabi Shepersky, a basket off a rebound by Mady Maninga and a layup by Weaver made it 26-20 at the 3:25 mark. Morris and Clark hit 3-pointers in the final 1:25 as the Panthers carried a 35-28 edge into the break.

A layup by Olivia Davis was followed by a three-point play and a 3-pointer by Morris to open the second half as the lead was extended to 43-28 with 15:30 to play. A layup by Morris and a 3-pointer by Shepersky were countered by 3-pointers by EGF’s Alison Kovar and Brynn Havis and two layups apiece by Havis and Hanah Jensen-Selnes as the Green Wave cut the deficit to 51-45 with 6:12 to play.

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The Panthers maintained the lead by making 15 trips to the foul line. Morris made 14 free throws while Davis and Morgan scored on layups to seal the win. Morgan’s layup made it 66-56 and capped off her final home game.

Morris finished with a career-high 28 points while Weaver (13) and Clark (11) also scored in double figures. Davis (9) and Chloe Tretbar (8) combined for 17 rebounds as the Panthers improved to 7-10.

Jensen-Selnes (12), Ella Eggers (11) and Havis (10) scored in double figures as the No. 6 seed in the North ended the season at 7-12.

“I thought that our girls played great. EGF plays a lot of seniors, so we knew they were going to play with urgency and leave everything on the court. I thought we did a really nice job matching that intensity for the entire 36 minutes,” said Park Rapids head coach Nic Lembcke. “Our senior (Morgan) was able to come up with a big play down the stretch for us. After EGF cut it to 8, Holly (Johnson) was able to pass out of a trap to Hannah sprinting down the court for a layup with under 1:30 left. I thought that play was the dagger that put the game out of reach for EGF. When you're playing a win-or-go-home game, it's fun to see a senior make a big play like that.”

In the two first-round Section 8AA playoff games, Warroad eliminated Bagley 46-30 and Frazee defeated Wadena-Deer Creek 39-35 in overtime. The second round saw Crookston defeat Warroad 74-18, Barnesville top Menahga 61-53, Pelican Rapids oust Staples-Motley 55-39, Fergus Falls defeat Frazee 68-46, Roseau eliminate Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 58-40, Hawley defeat Thief River Falls 77-38 and Breckenridge oust Perham 55-43.

Park Rapids advanced to play at Pelican Rapids in a section quarterfinal game on Friday (March 19). Crookston hosted Barnesville, Fergus Falls hosted Roseau and Hawley hosted Breckenridge in the other quarterfinals. The section semifinals will be played at the high seeds on Tuesday (March 23) with the championship game set for March 15 at a site to be determined.

EAST GRAND FORKS: Manger 1 6-6 8, Melquist 2 0-0 4, Hovde 1 1-2 3, Mattison 0 0-0 0, Eggers 4 3-4 11, Kovar 2 3-4 9, Carpenter 1 0-0 2, Havis 4 0-0 10, Garcia 0 2-3 2, Jensen-Selnes 5 2-6 12. Totals: 20 (FG), 17 for 25 (FT).
PARK RAPIDS: Morris 5 15-20 28, Clark 1 8-13 11, Weaver 3 6-8 13, Davis 2 2-4 6, Tretbar 0 2-4 2, Johnson 0 2-4 2, Maninga 1 0-0 2, Morgan 2 0-1 4, Shepersky 2 0-0 6. Totals: 16 (FG), 35 for 54 (FT).
Halftime: Park Rapids 35, EGF 28. Three-pointers: Kovar 2 Havis 2, Morris 3, Clark 1, Weaver 1. Team fouls: EGF 33, Park Rapids 25. Fouled out: Kovar, Davis. Rebounds: Park Rapids 39 (Davis 9, Tretbar 8, Morris 6, Weaver 5, Shepersky 4, Maninga 3, Clark 3, Johnson 1). Assists: Park Rapids 3 (Clark 1, Morris 1, Morgan 1). Steals: Park Rapids 13 (Weaver 3, Morris 2, Clark 2, Davis 2, Johnson 1, Tretbar 1, Morgan 1, Shepersky 1). Blocked shots: Park Rapids 5 (Weaver 3, Morris 1, Tretbar 1). Turnovers: Park Rapids 21.

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Related Topics: GIRLS BASKETBALL
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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