The Lakeville North Panthers saw a 23 point lead with 16 minutes to go in their game with the Park Center Pirates evaporate with the Pirates having a final possession chance to win the game.  The Panthers hung on for a 47-45 victory in the Class 4A Semifinals at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.  The final Minnesota Basketball News boys basketball poll had Park Center ranked #1 and Lakeville North rated #4.

The coaches in the 4A Tournament seeded the Panthers #5 and Park Center #1.  Lakeville North Head Coach John Oxton and his assistants had a terrific game plan and were ahead 31-14 at the half.  The Panthers never played the Pirates during the regular season yet defended the paint very well.

Park Center of Brooklyn Park junior 6'10 Dain Dainja was double teamed every time he got the ball in the low post and was held to one first half basket on three shots.  The Pirates were held to 4 field goals in the first half.  Lakeville North single season three point basket record holder Tommy Jensen added to his legacy with 3 three point baskets in the first half to lead the Panthers with 11 first half points.

Senior 6'7 Tyler Wahl is asked to do so much for the Panthers and delivers with such consistency.  Wahl played every second of the first half and tallied 5 points on 2 of 3 shooting, with 6 rebounds and 4 assists..  The free throw line kept the Pirates within striking distance.  Park Center was 6 of 11 in the first half from the charity stripe.  Lakeville North was 2 of 4.

The Pirates were 0 for 5 from three point range while the Panthers hit 5 of 9 three point attempts.  During the Pine Island Lumber Halftime Report Lakeville North Activities Director Mike Zweber told us the Panthers coaches are not only chosen due to their knowledge of the sport they are coaching,but also their ability to assist young people in becoming productive adults.

Zweber talked about all the State Tournaments Lakeville North has been involved in.  The Panthers were State Champions in football last fall.  Their baseball and softball teams went to State last Spring.  The girls basketball team was in the State Tournament last week in addition to the boys this week.

Park Center turned the tables in the second half ratcheting up their defense to not allow a field goal for the Panthers in the final 6:12 of the game.  Wahl played every second of the game and looked tired for a stretch in the second half.  He brings the ball up the floor, leads the team in rebounds, assists and points.  Wahl is heading to Wisconsin to play next year.

Wahl finished the game with 11 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists while taking just 7 shots in the game.  One of the differences in the contest was the three point shooting where Lakeville North drained 7 and Park Center 2 three point baskets.  The Pirates were 2 of 14 and the Panthers 7 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Lakeville North got careless with the ball in the second half and it nearly cost them the game.  The Panthers finished the game with 23 turnovers while Park Center had 15 turnovers.

The Pirates had the advantage in points off turnovers 19-7.  The game was even in the paint with each team scoring 20 points there.  Lakeville North led in some of the hustle point categories.  7-4 second chance points, 11-9 fast break points and 16 to 1 in bench points.  Lakeville North led every millisecond of the game. There were no ties.

Dainja came alive in the second half.  Finishing with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes.  The Tatge Jewelry Park Center Player of the Game was senior 6'1 Emmanuel Tamba who led his team with 16 points and 9 steals.  During the season he averaged 6 points per game.

Lakeville North senior 6'0 Tommy Jensen collected 16 points in 34 minutes.  Senior 6'4 Eli Mostaert fouled out with 1:31 to go with 7 rebounds alternating with twin brother Will Mostaert to be the primary defenders against Dainja.  The Mostaerts are both heading to North Dakota State University to play football.

Lakeville North will play the Hopkins Royals for the Class 4A State Championship Saturday night in the final boys high school basketball game of the season.  The Royals had their way with East Ridge 71-47.

Our Tatge Jewelry of Kenyon Panthers of the game were Jensen and Wahl.

The Pirates suffered their second loss of the year, are now 29-2.  The Panthers 27-4 tangle with 26-4 Hopkins.

On December 8 Hopkins defeated Lakeville North 78-72 in a Tip-Off Classic game at Hopkins.  The Panthers lost to Eden Prairie in December also and avenged that loss in the opening round of the tournament.