Going into the section semifinals, Park head coach Mike Weah called Eastview the Wolfpack’s home away from home for sections. Finally, Apple Valley felt a bit like home. Park stunned third-ranked …
Going into the section semifinals, Park head coach Mike Weah called Eastview the Wolfpack’s home away from home for sections.
Finally, Apple Valley felt a bit like home.
Park stunned third-ranked and top-seeded Eastview in the Section 3AAAA boys basketball semifinals Saturday night, winning a thrilling 55-52 overtime decision.
The victory easily was Park’s best basketball win in years.
The victory advances the Wolfpack (119) to the Section 3AAAA final and a date at third-seeded Rosemount (14-6) Thursday, March 25, starting at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the state tournament.
Rosemount knocked off second-seeded Lakeville North 59-49 to make the section finals.
“We showed toughness and grit, toughness and grit,” said Park head coach Mike Weah. “We came out sluggish and nervous knowing how good they (the Lightning) were. But then our leadership took over. Jayden Lane just has a can’t lose attitude. And Pharrel (Payne) was right there.
Park trailed by around 10 points much of the game, then surged in the second half to grab a four-point lead, only to see Eastview rally and send the game into overtime.
“We made mistakes and our nerves got to us a little bit,” said Weah. “But then we made a strong defensive stand. Brady Perryman, he made the key stop to get the game in overtime. We really executed in overtime and made key defensive stops. Our energy was contagious.”
Junior center Payne led Park with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Lane scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Having climbed one mountain, there’s one more remaining for these Wolfpack players.
“Rosemount is not going to make it easy for us,” said Weah. “It’s not going to be easy.”
It was the fifth straight year the Wolfpack has played at the hands of perennial power Eastview in sections, losing the previous four, including twice in heartbreaking fashion. Park lost to Eastview 103-63 last season, 83-81 in 2019, 74-72 in 2018 and 89-63 in 2017.
But this year Park turned the tables.
In the Section 3AAAA quarterfinals Wednesday, March 17, fourth-seeded Park awoke from a sleepy first half to run past visiting Eagan 65-52.
Park trailed 27-23 after a sloppy first half but outscored the visitors 42-25 after intermission to advance in the playoffs.
“That first half was terrible, they were running us off the court, they were playing harder than us, they were playing faster than us. Hats off to them, they definitely have some good young players and they’re going to be very tough in the future” said Weah. “But we picked it up in the second half, threw something else at them, made them think a little bit and just got after it and started playing the way we play.”
Lane had a monster game for the Wolfpack, scoring 26 points in the win.
“Jayden Lane, he was in this position two years ago as a sophomore and it’s something that you never know is going to happen again,” Weah. “”I think tonight it started to hit him a little bit that my high school career could be over if I don’t step up tonight and he just fought through everything. That kid is a wonderful player, he’s a wonderful leader. As he goes, we go. And our whole team knows that.”
Park’s Payne added 15 and Cooper Williams knocked down 11 points in his first significant varsity action.
“Keep the energy up at both ends of the floor,” said Lane when asked what he thought the Wolfpack did well. “In the first half we were kind of struggling, but second half we kept it up and we didn’t want to go home yet.”