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Boys Basketball: Positive attitude sparked success for Park Rapids

Fast start paced the Panthers to a 16-10 record.

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Nick Michaelson (32), capped off his senior season by being named the Panthers' MVP and earning Mid-State Conference honors after averaging 19.4 points and 13.6 rebounds a game during the 2021-22 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

PARK RAPIDS – Before the season started, head coach Josh Meader thought the Park Rapids boys basketball team had the talent to produce a winning record and earn a home game to open the Section 8AA playoffs.

A four-game losing streak to end the regular season prevented the Panthers from hosting a playoff game, but a quick start led to winning record while a victory in the 8AA tournament opener capped off a successful 16-10 season.

“Going into the season, the expectations were to give maximum effort and have a positive attitude every day, which is a hard thing to do during a long season. I thought our boys exceeded expectations in those areas, making this year a fun and enjoyable one to be a part of,” said Meader. “Overall I thought the season went very well because of the willingness of the boys, our assistant coaches and parents to give their maximum effort and keep a positive attitude.”

Park Rapids got off to a fast start by going 11-3 in the first 14 games. After splitting the season openers with a win over Pillager (68-54) and a loss to Pelican Rapids (63-47), the Panthers put together a four-game winning streak by defeating Bagley (74-48), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (70-29), Richland (88-47) and Rothsay (76-63).

After back-to-back losses to Thief River Falls (72-68) and Barnesville (76-51), the Panthers went on a six-game winning streak by defeating Menahga (76-57), Staples-Motley (66-48), Aitkin (67-56), Frazee (64-50), Crosby-Ironton (77-72) and East Grand Forks (65-58).

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That streak ended with a 70-60 loss to Detroit Lakes. Park Rapids followed a 71-59 win over Crookston with a 69-54 loss to Pequot Lakes before winning the next three games against Sebeka (74-31), Staples-Motley (64-60 in overtime) and Crosby-Ironton (85-70).

Closing the regular season with losses to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (84-81), Detroit Lakes (78-69), Wadena-Deer Creek (68-65) and Pequot Lakes (47-45) cost the Panthers a top 8 seed and a home playoff game.

Pequot Lakes won the Mid-State Conference title with a 9-1 record while Detroit Lakes finished at 8-2. The Panthers placed third with a 5-4 mark while Aitkin (4-5), Crosby-Ironton (3-7) and Staples-Motley (0-10) rounded out the conference standings.

Going 4-5 against Section 8AA teams gave the Panthers the No. 9 seed for the playoffs. Park Rapids opened the tournament by avenging a loss to No. Barnesville during the regular season with a 71-55 victory before being eliminated by No. 1 D-G-F 69-50 in the quarterfinals. No. 3 Perham defeated D-G-F 54-40 in the section title game.

For the season, the Panthers averaged 67.2 points while allowing 59.7 points a game. Park Rapids shot 43.9% from the field (683 for 1,554), 29.9% on 3-pointers (150 for 501) and 60.6% on free throws (232 for 383) while averaging 18.2 turnovers a game. Going 16-10 marked the first time since the 2013-14 season (16-11) that the Panthers had posted a winning record.

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Senior Logan Jackson (middle) received Mid-State Conference honors after averaging 9.9 points and 7.5 rebounds a game while leading the Panthers with 127 assists during the 2021-22 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Nick Michaelson, Logan Jackson, Parker Harmon, Zach Van Batavia and Isaiah Olson; junior Mason Yliniemi; and sophomores Noah Morris and Noah Larson.

Michaelson (eight double-doubles, 196 points, 132 rebounds, 28 steals, 19 blocked shots, 17 assists in the nine conference games) and Jackson (three double-doubles, 79 points, 70 rebounds, 50 assists in nine games) received Mid-State Conference honors while Harmon (58 points, 53 rebounds, 18 assists, 14 steals in nine games), Van Batavia (16 points, 15 rebounds, 15 assists in nine games) and Morris (104 points, 26 assists, 21 rebounds, 11 steals in eight games) were all-conference honorable mention players.

Michaelson averaged 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 while dishing out 63 assists and making 29 3-pointers in 26 games to earn team MVP honors.

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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. Jackson scored 257 points and had 194 rebounds while adding 23 blocked shots and 19 steals in 26 games.

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Senior Parker Harmon averaged 5.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game during the 2021-22 season in earning Mid-State Conference honorable mention honors.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Morris was second in scoring at 11.1 points a game and led the Panthers with 45 3-pointers. Morris scored 267 points and had 71 assists, 42 steals and 52 rebounds in 24 games.

Larson averaged 8.6 points a game, scoring 224 points while adding 88 rebounds, 38 assists and 26 steals in 26 games. Larson received the team’s 6th Man award.

Harmon averaged 5.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, tallying 138 points, 145 rebounds, 49 steals and 43 assists in 26 games.

Yliniemi averaged 4.3 points a game, compiling 137 points, 52 rebounds, 25 assists and 12 steals in 26 games.

Van Batavia chipped in 4.2 points a game by scoring 45 points while contributing 45 rebounds, 46 assists and 32 steals in 26 games.

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Senior Zach VanBatavia averaged 4.2 points a game during the 2021-22 season in earning Mid-State Conference honorable mention honors.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Olson scored 80 points (3.8 per game) with 37 rebounds, 18 assists and 19 steals in 21 games.

Also seeing some varsity time this season were juniors Caleb Arola, Quincy Squires, Jeremiah Olson, Cory Johnson, Aidan Yliniemi Hensel, Luke Hartung and Hunter Harrison along with sophomores Matt Johanning and Blake Morris.

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IsaiahOlson April16.JPG
Isaiah Olson capped off his senior season by averaging 3.8 points a game during the 2021-22 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Graduation will leave the Panthers without five of their top scorers. However, Meader is counting on the returning players to step up and produce another winning season next winter.

“Our five seniors were awesome. I told them many times near the end of the season and at the banquet that they have set a new standard of where our effort and attitude needs to be for the next 7 to 10 years. It is something that I am not sure they fully realize yet that they have had a massive impact on our entire program all the way down to our youngest levels. I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for our program. I am extremely proud of them and excited to see what they all do in the next step of their lives,” said Meader. “Expectations for next season will be similar to this season: give maximum effort every day and keep a positive attitude. The goal will be to take it up another level from this season. As mentioned before, this past season set the standard on those areas. We are going to try to improve them to a new level each and every year.”

PARK RAPIDS STATISTICS

SCORING AVERAGE: Michaelson 19.4, N. Morris 11.1, Jackson 9.9, Larson 8.6, Harmon 5.3, Yliniemi 5.3, VanBatavia 4.2, I. Olson 3.8, Johanning 1.2, Hartung 1.1, Squires 0.6, Arola 0.3, Harrison 0.3, Johnson 0.2.

POINTS: Michaelson 505, N. Morris 267, Jackson 257, Larson 224, Harmon 138, Yliniemi 137, Van Batavia 110, I. Olson 80, Hartung 13, Johanning 6, Squires 5, Johnson 2, Harrison 2, Arola 2.

REBOUNDS: Michaelson 354, Jackson 194, Harmon 145, Larson 88, Yliniemi 52, N. Morris 52, Van Batavia 45, I. Olson 37, Arola 13, Hartung 8, Johnson 5, Johanning 5, Squires 3, Harrison 3. J. Olson 1.

ASSISTS: Jackson 127, N. Morris 71, Michaelson 63, Van Batavia 46, Harmon 43, Larson 38, Yliniemi 25, I. Olson 18, Hartung 3, Arola 2, Johnson 1, Yliniemi Hensel 1.

STEALS: Michaelson 66, Harmon 49, N. Morris 42, Van Batavia 32, Larson 26, Jackson 19, I. Olson 19, Yliniemi 12, Johnson 2, Hartung 1, Harrison 1, Johanning 1, B. Morris 1.

BLOCKED SHOTS: Michaelson 84, Jackson 23, Harmon 7, Yliniemi 6, N. Morris 3, Van Batavia 2, I. Olson 2, Johanning 1.

FIELD GOALS: Michaelson 220 for 530, Jackson 109 for 206, Larson 90 for 162, N. Morris 80 for 200, Yliniemi 57 for 150, Harmon 59 for 105, Van Batavia 36 for 98, I. Olson 30 for 76, Hartung 5 for 14, Johanning 2 for 5, Squires 2 for 6, Harrison 1 for 6, Arola 1 for 8, Johnson 1 for 9, J. Olson 0 for 1, B. Morris 0 for 2, Yliniemi Hensel 0 for 3.

3-POINTERS: N. Morris 45 for 121, Michaelson 29 for 108, Yliniemi 16 for 52, Jackson 15 for 46, I. Olson 13 for 43, Larson 12 for 34, Harmon 11 for 40, Van Batavia 6 for 34, Hartung 2 for 7, Squires 1 for 4, Arola 0 for 1, J. Olson 0 for 1, Yliniemi Hensel 0 for 2, B. Morris 0 for 2, Johnson 0 for 3, Harrison 0 for 3.

FREE THROWS: N. Morris 62 for 73, Michaelson 36 for 70, Van Batavia 32 for 51, Larson 32 for 56, Harmon 29 for 48, Jackson 24 for 44, I. Olson 7 for 12, Yliniemi 7 for 18, Johanning 2 for 4, Hartung 1 for 4, Arola 0 for 3.

TURNOVERS: Jackson 97, Michaelson 83, N. Morris 81, Harmon 62, Yliniemi 38, Larson 35, Van Batavia 31, I. Olson 26, Hartung 4, Yliniemi Hensel 3, B. Morris 3, Johnson 2, Squires 2, Arola 2, Johanning 2, J. Olson 1, Harrison 1.

FOULS: Michaelson 75, Harmon 60, Jackson 53, N. Morris 38, Larson 33, Van Batavia 31, I. Olson 31, Yliniemi 24, Hartung 4, Harrison 2, Johnson 1, Arola ,1 Yliniemi Hensel 1, Johanning 1, B. Morris 1, J. Olson 1.

MINUTES: Jackson 794, Michaelson 793, N. Morris 713, Harmon 671, Yliniemi 497, Larson 495, Van Batavia 410, I. Olson 256, Hartung 55, Johnson 28, Arola 21, Harrison 17, Yliniemi Hensel 16, Squires 14, Johanning 13, B. Morris 11, J. Olson 8.

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