Panthers earn hard-fought win
Tori Weaver scored 30 points in leading the Park Rapids girls basketball team past Staples-Motley.
Clutch shooting down the stretch helped offset foul trouble as the Park Rapids girls basketball team picked up its first win of the season.
Tori Weaver, Hannah Morgan and Mady Maninga hit key shots while Weaver and Olivia Davis combined to make four clutch free throws in the Panthers’ 72-68 Mid-State Conference victory over Staples-Motley at the Area High School gym on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
Staples-Motley led 63-60 with 3:05 to play before Weaver and Morgan connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Panthers a 66-63 lead at the 2:19 mark. A jumper by Maninga made it 68-63 with 1:38 left before three free throws by Weaver and another by Davis in the final minute helped seal the win.
“This win should be a big confidence booster for us. We were finally able to take the lid off the basket and score some points,” said Park Rapids head coach Nic Lembcke. “We've been telling the girls to stay confident and keep shooting. They were able to hit some key buckets down the stretch to seal the win.”
Weaver provided all of the scoring for the Panthers in the early going as her five layups and 3-pointer provided a 14-13 edge. Two inside baskets by Morgan, a basket off a rebound by Maninga, a layup and a jumper by Davis, and a 3-pointer by Weaver gave Park Rapids a 33-26 advantage at the half.
Layups by Weaver, Chloe Tretbar and Davis pushed the Panthers’ lead to 39-28 with 16:11 to play. Four free throws by Davis, a layup by Mickey Clark, a 3-pointer by Morgan, and a layup by Tretbar kept Park Rapids in front 51-43 with 10:46 to go before the Cardinals responded with a 9-0 run to claim a 52-51 lead at the 8:17 mark.
A jumper by Clark was followed by 3-pointers by Abby Morris and Morgan as the Panthers claimed a 60-59 lead with 5:20 to play. The Cardinals took a 63-60 lead before Park Rapids rallied for the win as Staples-Motley missed eight free throws in the final 5:14.
Both teams went 17 for 27 on free throws as the two teams combined to commit 47 fouls.
“Our keys coming into the game were to win turnovers, rebounds and 50/50 balls,” said Lembcke. “We were able to win all three of those battles.”
Weaver finished with a career-high 30 points while Davis posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds to go along with six steals. Morgan also chipped in 13 points while Tretbar had eight rebounds, Morris dished out seven assists and Clark had 5 steals. The Panthers had 23 steals and forced 25 turnovers while making 7 of 15 3-point shots to improve to 1-2 in conference play and 1-4 overall. Park Rapids prevailed despite committing 25 fouls and having Morris and Clark foul out.
Lauren Rutten (17), Aften Robinson (14), Haley Cichos (12) and Allison Knosalla (11) scored in double figures for Staples-Motley, which fell to 1-2 in Mid-State games and 3-3 overall.
“I have seen a lot of growth with this team since the beginning of the season. The biggest thing I have been impressed with is their attitudes. They were able to stay positive and continue to work hard through a tough schedule to start the season,” said Lembcke. “This game was the result of that hard work. This group plays hard and they play for each other. We had both of our guards (Abby and Mickey) foul out late in the game. The other girls were able to step up and close out the game. What impressed me just as much, though, was those two girls cheering, giving reminders and helping direct the other players from the sideline. I think that shows exactly what this team is all about.”
STAPLES-MOTLEY: Robinson 6 1-4 14, Knosalla 5 0-0 11, Cichos 4 1-4 12, Rutten 3 11-13 17, Allen 1 4-4 6, Olander 4 0-2 8. Totals: 23 for 52 (FG), 17 for 27 (FT).
PARK RAPIDS: Morris 1 0-0 3, Clark 2 1-3 5, Weaver 9 9-12 30, Davis 3 7-10 13, Tretbar 2 0-2 4, Lopez 0 0-0 0, Maninga 2 0-0 4, Morgan 5 0-0 13, Shepersky 0 0-0 0, Persons 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 for 76 (FG), 17 for 27 (FT).
Halftime: Park Rapids 33, Staples-Motley 26. Three-pointers: Robinson 1, Knosalla 1, Cichos 3, Morris 1, Weaver 3, Morgan 3. Team fouls: Staples-Motley 22, Park Rapids 25. Fouled out: Morris, Clark. Rebounds: Park Rapids 39 (Davis 12, Tretbar 8, Weaver 5, Cark 4, Morgan 4, Morris 4, Maninga 2). Assists: Park Rapids 16 (Morris 7, Clark 2, Davis 2, Tretbar 2, Weaver 2, Morgan 1). Steals: Park Rapids 23 (David 6, Clark 5, Morris 4, Weaver 3, Morgan 2, Maninga 1, Persons 1). Blocked shots: Park Rapids 2 (Davis 1, Persons 1). Turnovers: S-M 25, Park Rapids 15.