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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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