Panthers close regular season with loss to Aitkin

Hunter Nissen scored 25 points in leading the Gobblers to a 64-50 Mid-State Conference victory.

Logan Jackson (24) drove to the basket as Aitkin's Gus Sanford defended during the Panthers' regular-season finale at the Area High School gym on Thursday, March 11. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

After exchanging baskets for most of the first half, Aitkin used a 13-0 run to build a 39-30 halftime lead and spark a 64-50 Mid-State Conference victory over the Park Rapids boys basketball team at the Area High School gym on Thursday, March 11.

The first half featured 15 lead changes before 3-pointers by Owen Hagen, Zack MacDonald and Hunter Nissen helped give the Gobblers a 34-22 lead with 3:43 to play in the first half. Aitkin held the lead the rest of the way to prevail in this regular-season finale.

Two layups by Zach Van Batavia, a 3-pointer by Nick Michaelson and a layup by Parker Harmon offset a jumper and a pair of 3-pointers by Nissen as the Panthers led 9-8 at the 13:17 mark. A layup and a three-point play by Michaelson, a basket off a rebound by Van Batavia, and jumpers by James Hartig and Michaelson gave Park Rapids a 20-19 edge with 8:22 to play in the first half. Michaelson’s layup off a steal gave the Panthers’ their final lead of the game at 22-21 with 7:40 remaining before the break.

Aitkin responded with a 13-0 run to claim the lead for good. A 3-pointer by Van Batavia, a layup by Michaelson and a jumper by Logan Jackson were offset by a jumper and a 3-pointer by Nissen as the Gobblers maintained the lead at the half. Nissen scored 21 points to pace Aitkin in the opening half.

After a layup by Hartig and two free throws by Van Batavia cut the gap to 39-34 with 16:44 to play, the Gobblers pushed the lead to 45-34 with 14:40 left. Jumpers by Michaelson and Isaiah Olson, layups by Michaelson and Harmon, and three baskets by Jackson paced the Panthers down the stretch.


Michaelson’s 18 points and Van Batavia’s 13 points led Park Rapids, which fell to 2-6 in the conference and 5-11 overall.

Nissen, who scored 36 points in the Gobblers’ 60-52 win over Park Rapids on Feb. 11, finished with a game-high 25 points. Gus Sanford (12), MacDonald (10) and Hagen (10) also scored in double figures as Aitkin improved to 5-3 in conference games and 8-7 overall.

AITKIN: MacDonald 4 1-2 10, Sanford 4 4-4 12, Nissen 10 0-0 25, Williams 3 0-0 6, Hagen 4 0-0 10, Janzen 0 1-4 1. Totals: 25 (FG), 6 for 10 (FT).
PARK RAPIDS: Hartig 2 0-2 4, Van Batavia 4 4-6 13, Harmon 2 1-2 5, Jackson 4 0-2 8, Michaelson 8 1-1 18, Morris 0 0-0 0, Olson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 (FG), 6 for 13 (FT).
Halftime: Aitkin 39, Park Rapids 30. Three-pointers: MacDonald 1, Nissen 5, Hagen 2, Van Batavia 1, Michaelson 1.

Zach Van Batavia put up a shot during Park Rapids' Mid-State Conference game against Aitkin on Thursday, March 11. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
What To Read Next
The Detroit Lakes-based collective also includes players from Frazee-Vergas, Perham, New York Mills and Park Rapids.
Warm temperatures and partial sun greeted 33 drivers, crews and riders for the opening day. Plus, a huge gathering of fans looked on in the special area created for fans’ viewing pleasure.
If accepted, the school would join Barnesville, Breckenridge, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Hawley, Frazee, Pelican Rapids and Perham in 2024-25.