Persons returns, provides spark for Panthers

Tristin Persons' presence on the basketball court was missed by the Park Rapids boys basketball team. During the 10 games the senior guard missed with an ankle injury, the Panthers went 1-9. Persons made an immediate impact when he returned to th...

Jake Reish drove in for a layup during Park Rapids' 58-48 win over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle at the Area High School gym on on Feb. 19. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Tristin Persons' presence on the basketball court was missed by the Park Rapids boys basketball team.

During the 10 games the senior guard missed with an ankle injury, the Panthers went 1-9. Persons made an immediate impact when he returned to the court by sparking Park Rapids to a pair of Section 8AA wins against Staples-Motley and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle at the Area High School gym.

Persons scored 20 points and had four steals and two assists as the Panthers defeated Staples-Motley 70-35 in a Mid-State Conference game on Feb. 15. Persons hit a pair of 3-pointers and had a pair of assists as Park Rapids followed that win by defeating LP-GE 58-48 on Feb. 19.

"Having Tristin back changes the way we can play. We now have another player that can help generate offense for us through shooting and setting other guys up. He also brings a great defensive presence," said Park Rapids head coach Matt Brandt. "His leadership on the floor and him being able to make a full comeback to play helps drive the team to be better. He is not taking anything for granted because he is so grateful to be playing again."

Those two wins gave the Panthers a 4-5 record against section teams and solidified the No. 5 spot for the upcoming section playoffs. Park Rapids improved to 7-13 overall.


"The back-to-back wins were great for seeding purposes," said Brandt. "It should put us right in the middle of our half of the section, which is where I figured we would be."

Panthers rout Cardinals

Gabe Bagstad and Persons provided an early spark as Park Rapids soared past the Cardinals.

Jeff Haas' jumper, 3-pointer and layup along with two 3-pointers and a layup by Bagstad gave the Panthers an early 15-2 lead with 12:24 to play in the first half. Three layups by Persons, a layup by Jake Reish, and two 3-pointers and a layup off a steal by Bagstad gave Park Rapids a 33-19 advantage at the break.

A layup off a steal by Bagstad, 3-pointers by Persons and Kaiden Walsh, and a layup by Avery Wolff sparked a 12-1 run to open the second half as the Panthers led 45-20 with 12:15 to go. Persons followed a four-point play with a three-point play and a layup as the lead expanded to 57-24 with 8:02 remaining. Wolff scored off a rebound, Nick Michaelson hit a jumper, and Skylar Hagen hit two 3-pointers to cap off the win.

Bagstad posted a double-double with 20 points and 10 steals while dishing out five assists. Kolby Brandt pulled down eight rebounds while Michaelson grabbed six rebounds and had two blocked shots as the Panthers improved to 3-5 in the conference.

The Cardinals fell to 0-6 in conference games and 1-19 overall.

STAPLES-MOTLEY: Carlson 1 0-1 2, Klafsaas 1 2-2 5, Giza 0 2-2 2, Wick 0 1-2 1, Olander 1 2-2 4, Kronenberg 4 1-3 9, DeMars 1 2-4 5, Robben 0 0-1 0, Oberlander 2 0-0 4, Braith 1 0-0 3. Totals: 11 (FG), 10 for 17 (FT).


PARK RAPIDS: Haas 3 0-0 7, Bagstad 7 2-2 20, Persons 7 4-4 20, Michaelson 1 0-2 2, K. Brandt 0 0-0 0, Reish 2 1-2 5, Hagen 2 0-0 6, H. Brandt 0 0-2 0, Yliniemi 0 1-2 1, Walsh 1 0-0 3, Wolff 2 2-2 6. Totals: 25 for 57 (FG), 10 for 16 (FT).

Halftime: Park Rapids 33, S-M 19. Three-pointers: Klafsaas 1, DeMars 1, Braith 1, Haas 1, Bagstad 4, Persons 2, Hagen 2, Walsh 1. Rebounds: Park Rapids 30 (K. Brandt 8, Michaelson 6, Reish 5, Hagan 2, Bagstad 2, Persons 2, Walsh 2, Wolff 2, Haas 1). Assists: Park Rapids 15 (Bagstad 5, Michaelson 3, Walsh 3, Persons 2, H. Brandt 1, K. Brandt 1). Steals: Park Rapids 23 (Bagstad 10, Persons 4, H. Brandt 2, K. Brandt 2, Reish 1, Yliniemi 1, Michaelson 1, Walsh 1, Wolff 1). Blocked shots: Park Rapids 5 (Michaelson 3, Reish 1, Wolff 1). Team fouls: S-M 19, Park Rapids 19. Turnovers: Park Rapids 15.

Panthers top Thunder

After a sluggish start, the Panthers made some adjustments to spark the win over LP-GE.

Layups by Persons and Michaelson, a jumper by Wolff and a 3-pointer by Bagstad gave the Panthers a 10-8 lead with 9:58 to play in the first half. Layups by Michaelson and Walsh kept Park Rapids in front 14-10 at the 6:59 mark before LP-GE rallied to take a 22-17 lead. A 3-pointer by Persons made it 22-20 at the break.

Haas opened the second half with a 3-pointer to put the Panthers in front before LP-GE took a 24-23 lead with 16:33 to play.

Park Rapids responded with a 17-4 run to take control. Bagstad's layup off a steal, a jumper by Haas, back-to-back 3-pointers by Persons and Bagstad, another layup by Bagstad, and a 3-pointer by Walsh gave Park Rapids a 40-28 advantage with 11:06 remaining.

A 3-pointer by Haas, a jumper by Michaelson and two 3-pointers by Bagstad provided a 51-37 lead with 5:58 to play. Layups by Michaelson and Haas helped seal the win.


Bagstad (20) and Haas (11) hit double figures to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Panthers. Michaelson had a solid game with 9 points, 14 rebounds, five blocked shots and four steals while Brandt had eight rebounds. Haas chipped in five rebounds and five assists as the Panthers won despite making only 9 of 29 3-pointers.

Gabe Abraham's 18 points and Ian Langford's 12 points led the Thunder, who fell to 1-4 against section teams and 6-13 overall.

"We started extremely slow. We were passing up shots and making passes we normally don't make in transition. We were not able to generate rhythm on the floor due to this. We were not preparing our feet for when the ball got rotated to shoot the ball. We did not attack off the screens. We have to be better and play more consistent," said Brandt. "At the half, we talked about intensity and moving the ball with a purpose and making sure we made crisp passes to get the defense moving. Another point was to make sure we were attacking off the screen to get two players to commit to guarding and then look to kick the ball. We also made a few adjustments on the defensive side in moving some guys around and needing to play in the passing lanes and be on our toes. The defensive letdown (in the first half) was that we did not want to play hard and we needed to adjust our attitude. We have to come ready to play harder and this has been something we talk about frequently."

LONG PRAIRIE-GREY EAGLE: Abraham 7 2-3 18, S. Byers 0 2-2 2, Larson 2 3-6 9, Langford 5 2-5 12, Fossland 2 0-0 4, N. Byers 1 0-0 3. Totals: 17 (FG), 9 for 16 (FT).

PARK RAPIDS: Haas 4 1-2 11, Bagstad 7 2-2 20, Persons 3 0-0 8, K. Brandt 0 0-0 0, Michaelson 4 1-2 9, Reish 0 1-2 1, Hagen 0 0-0 0, H. Brandt 0 0-0 0, Yliniemi 0 0-0 0, Ohm 0 0-0 0, Walsh 2 2-3 7, Wolff 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 for 48 (FG), 7 for 12 (FT).

Halftime: LP-GE 22, Park Rapids 20. Three-pointers: Abraham 2, Larson 2, N. Byers 1, Haas 2, Bagstad 4, Persons 2, Walsh 1. Team fouls: LP-GE 11, Park Rapids 16. Fouled out: K. Brandt, Wolff. Rebounds: Park Rapids 38 (Michaelson 14, K. Brandt 8, Haas 5, Wolff 3, Reish 2, Bagstad 2, Persons 2, Ohm 1, Walsh 1). Assists: Park Rapids 16 (Haas 5, Bagstad 3, Reish 2, Persons 2, Michaelson 2, Wolff 2). Steals: Park Rapids 11 (Michaelson 4, Bagstad 3, Persons 1, K. Brandt 1, Ohm 1, Wolff 1). Blocked shots: Park Rapids 5 (Michaelson 5). Turnovers: Park Rapids 9.

Park Rapids' Mason Yliniemi and Staples-Motley's Sivert Klefsaas (11) chased after a loose ball during a Mid-State Conference game on Feb. 15. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

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