Shooting woes led to Panthers’ 4-22 mark

Matt Brandt can point to one area which resulted in the Park Rapids boys basketball team going 0-8 in Mid-State Conference play and 4-22 overall this season.

Remington Hagan
Remington Hagan earned team MVP and Mid-State Conference honors after averaging 11.7 points a game.

     Matt Brandt can point to one area which resulted in the Park Rapids boys basketball team going 0-8 in Mid-State Conference play and 4-22 overall this season.

     The Panthers shot only 36.2 percent from the field (445 for 1,229) and 49.4 percent from the free-throw line (159 for 322) during the 25 regular-season games. Park Rapids also shot only 26.4 percent on 3-pointers (76 for 288) while turning the ball over 18.5 times a game. That resulted in Park Rapids averaging only 45.0 points a game while allowing 64.1 points a night.

     “I thought we had the potential to finish in the middle of the pack, but our offensive firepower was way less than I thought it would be,” said Brandt. “I thought our defense was good enough to win a lot of games, but we didn’t have the ability to finish off shots around the basket. The brunt of our shots were within four feet of the basket. We’d work hard to get the shots we wanted, but we didn’t finish. We also missed a lot of free throws. You’re not going to win many games when you shoot that poorly.”

     The Panthers started off the season by losing 11 of their first 12 games. However, Park Rapids was within striking distance down the stretch in five of those 11 losses.

     Menahga prevailed 48-44 in the season opener before the Panthers lost to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (67-29), Staples-Motley (61-49 in the conference opener), Pillager (45-44), Detroit Lakes (71-37 in a conference game) and Crosby-Ironton (64-37 in another conference game).


     That losing streak was snapped with a 57-53 win over Roseau before losses to Pequot Lakes (56-21 in a conference game), Crookston (60-42), Bagley (51-45) and Wadena-Deer Creek (59-43) followed.

     Cass Lake opened the Park Rapids Holiday Tournament with an 89-44 victory over the hosts before the Panthers defeated Frazee 66-52 for third place to close out 2015.

     “Playing 12 games in December hurt us,” said Brandt. “We didn’t have many days to practice.”

     The Panthers began 2016 with a 60-56 win over Pelican Rapids before going on a 10-game losing streak with losses to Perham (62-32), Staples-Motley (66-43), Warroad (61-45), Crosby-Ironton (72-34), Nevis (75-49), Pequot Lakes (78-35), Sebeka (65-58), Detroit Lakes (79-32), Barnesville (68-59) and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (79-70).

     Crosby-Ironton and Detroit Lakes shared the conference title by going 6-2 while Pequot Lakes and Staples-Motley finished at 4-4.

     Park Rapids closed out the regular season with a 55-52 win over East Grand Forks. The Panthers received the No. 13 seed for the Section 8AA playoffs and were eliminated with a 77-43 loss to No. 4 Breckenridge in the first round. D-G-F defeated Perham 62-53 in the section title game.

     Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Remington Hagan, Tristan Breitweser, Damion Hanke, Connor Byer, Jordan Yliniemi and Isaac Kosel; juniors Hunter Jewison, Tanner Becker, Adam Herberg and Jake Dickinson; sophomore Jason Haas; and freshman Tristin Persons. Those 12 played in at least 11 games.

     Also seeing some varsity time were senior Jacob Engst; junior Ben Garcelon; and sophomores Blake Johnson, Will Pickar, Luke Kosel and John Ballard.


     Hagan earned Mid-State Conference honors after averaging 8.1 points a game in the eight conference contests and was named the Panthers’ Most Valuable Player after leading the team in scoring at 11.7 points a game. Hagan led the team with 34 3-pointers and 65 steals while adding 71 rebounds. Hagan made 111 of 254 shots and 24 of 39 free throws in scoring 280 points in 24 regular-season games.

     Jewison also played in 24 regular-season games and averaged 9.7 points and a team-leading 6.1 rebounds a game. Jewison led the Panthers with 146 rebounds and 30 blocked shots while adding 23 steals. Jewison made 104 of 213 shots and 24 of 50 free throws in scoring 232 points. Jewison received the team’s Mr. Defense Award.

     Breitweser was second on the team with 28 3-pointers and finished third by averaging 5.8 points a game. In 24 regular-season games, Breitweser made 52 of 158 shots and 8 for 15 free throws in scoring 140 points. Breitweser also had 30 rebounds and 23 steals.

     Hanke was fourth in scoring at 4.1 points a game and was second on the team with 89 rebounds. Hanke also had 22 steals and scored 99 points in 24 games by making 43 of 121 field goals and 13 of 33 free throws.

     Haas played in all 25 regular-season games and averaged 3.5 points a game, making 33 of 97 shots and 14 of 24 free throws for 88 points. Haas also had 39 rebounds and 33 steals.

     Byer played in 24 games and made 29 of 92 shots and 17 of 44 free throws for 75 points. Byer averaged 3.1 points a game and had 58 rebounds and 17 steals.

     Becker saw action in 17 games, making 17 of 47 shots and 11 of 23 free throws for 45 points. Becker also had 31 rebounds.

     Herberg played in 18 games and had 41 points and 12 rebounds. Herberg made 9 of 40 field goals and 20 of 24 free throws.


     Dickinson played in 21 games and made 14 of 49 shots and 2 of 13 free throws for 31 points. Dickinson also had 34 rebounds.

     Persons played in 11 games and made 5 of 24 shots and 7 of 16 free throws for 17 points. Persons was named the Panthers’ Most Improved Player.

     Yliniemi made 4 of 23 shots and 11 of 20 free throws in scoring 19 points while grabbing 16 rebounds in 13 games. Yliniemi missed the end of the season with an ankle injury.

     Isaac Kosel played in all 25 regular-season games and hit 14 of 63 shots and 6 of 18 free throws in scoring 34 points. Kosel also had 40 rebounds and 15 steals.

     Looking ahead to next season, the Panthers will have to fill the voids left by the seven graduating seniors. However, Brandt has a solid core returning to build around next season.

     “We have a lot of spots to be replaced, which leaves a lot of spots open,” said Brandt. “We have to work on a lot of stuff this summer, especially shooting. I know these kids want to win and I believe we’re going to move up next year. We’ll see what kind of work the kids want to put in this summer. If they put in the work and if we can get our offense going more consistently, we’re going to reach our goals.”

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