Boys Basketball: Park Rapids looking for players to step up, fill key roles this season
Only 3 letterwinners return from last year's team that posted a 16-10 record.
The graduation of a talented group of seniors leaves the Park Rapids boys basketball team with several key positions to fill.
Leading the Panthers to a 16-10 record last season were the senior group of Nick Michaelson, Logan Jackson, Parker Harmon, Zach Van Batavia and Isaiah Olson. Michaelson and Jackson were Mid-State Conference players while Harmon and Van Batavia received all-conference honorable mention honors.
Michaelson led Park Rapids by averaging a double-double of 19.4 points and 13.6 rebounds a game. Michaelson scored 505 points to surpass 1,000 in his career, grabbed 354 rebounds and had 84 blocked shots and 66 steals to lead the team. Jackson was third on the team in scoring at 9.9 points a game and was second in rebounding at 7.5 a game while leading the Panthers with 127 assists. Harmon averaged 5.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, Van Batavia chipped in 4.2 points a game and Olson averaged 3.8 points per game.
That group helped the Panthers post a 5-4 record in the conference to trail Pequot Lakes (9-1) and Detroit Lakes (8-2) and earn the No. 9 seed for the Section 8AA playoffs. Park Rapids opened the postseason with a 71-55 victory over Barnesville before being eliminated with a 69-50 loss to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton. Perham defeated D-G-F 54-40 in the section title game.
Being counted on to lead the way for the Panthers this season are the three returning letterwinners: senior Mason Yliniemi and juniors Noah Morris and Noah Larson.
Morris received all-conference honorable mention honors after averaging 11.1 points a game with a team-leading 45 3-pointers. Morris also had 71 assists, 42 steals and 52 rebounds. Larson averaged 8.6 points a game while adding 88 rebounds, 38 assists and 26 steals. Yliniemi averaged 4.3 points a game with 52 rebounds.
Also back after seeing some varsity time last season are seniors Caleb Arola, Quincy Squires, Cory Johnson, Aidan Yliniemi Hensel, Luke Hartung and Hunter Harrison along with juniors Matt Johanning and Blake Morris.
“We have a handful of guys competing for varsity time. Once we get on the court more and get some injuries healed up, we will have a better picture of what our varsity roster and playing time will look like,” said Park Rapids head coach Josh Meader. “We have 40 boys out right now in the gym, which is great. (It) gives us many options at all three levels for playing time and rosters. As the season gets going, we will use our first few games to get a better picture of where we all fit.”
The rest of the varsity, junior varsity and C squad rosters will feature senior Ben Roos; juniors Alex Brewer, Ridglley Clark, Jose Martinez-Nava, Noah Phillippi, Mason Sherva, Christopher Stoehr and Owen Van Batavia; sophomores John Bruguier, Ryan Carroll, Deshawn Clark, Thomas Hartung, Joseph Klein, Thomas Lopez, Tyler Officer, Landon Strasburg and Kaleb Weaver; and freshmen Travis Feather-Kaumans, Kaden Gartner, Gregory Graff, Owen Hase, Carter Hirt, Parker Hunter, Alex Huot, Brayden Price and Leroy Ross.
“Expectations for this year's team is to continue to build on our standards of giving maximum effort and having a positive attitude. Our schedule is more difficult this year, but we have a group of boys that is ready to rise to any challenge and give everything they have,” said Meader. “Our keys in the long run will be to give the most effort day in and day out and to keep a positive attitude throughout the season.”