Royals run past Wolfpack in regular season finale


Visiting Woodbury got revenge for an earlier home-court loss to Park with a 51-36 victory over the host Wolfpack Wednesday at Cottage Grove in the regular season finale for both teams.

Park eighth grade forward Mesa Jameson scored 17 points and senior guard Tori Henderson had 11 in her final regular-season game. But the rest of Park’s team combined for just eight points.

Park had cut Woodbury’s lead to 19-17 near the end of the first half, but the Royals went on an 8-0 run to build the lead back to 10. Woodbury led by double digits the rest of the game.

“We had them to two and we were just not rebounding well in the first half and just giving them second and third opportunities and that was what was really killing us,” said Park head coach Stephanie Tolkinen. “And then missing some coverage on their little shooter in the corner. We talked about it but we’re too worried about the people in the paint and I was concerned about the people in the corner and all of a sudden a couple of shots go up and next thing you know it’s a 10-point game. And we just missed some shots. We struggled getting organized. The kids were worried about are they man or are they zone instead of just running our offense, which we can run either way.”

The Wolfpack finished the regular season at 3-15 in the Suburban East Conference, in ninth place, and were 4-22 on the season.

Woodbury ended seventh in the SEC at 8-8 and are 12-13 on the season.

Park could return almost the entire team next season, with the notable exception of multiple year starter Tori Henderson.

“She and I have a relationship that goes way back,” Tolkinen said of Henderson. “I was her kindergarten PE teacher. So, I’ve known her since she was five years old. So, we have a really long-lasting mutual affection for each other that goes beyond basketball. I’ve watched her grow up before my very eyes and sometimes I feel like another mother of hers. She gets in the gym without being told. She’s a wonderful leader, especially to our younger kids coming in, having all these ninth graders and eighth graders. She can kind of sense the temperature and knows how to talk to those kids, and how to make them feel welcome, how to make them feel involved and she can get a lot out of them, too. She just has a great relationship with those kids. That I’m going to miss.”

Asked her favorite memory playing Park basketball, Henderson recalled a sectional battle with Eagan from two seasons ago.

“Probably beating Eagan in the game to go to the section championship, that game, that was super fun,” said Henderson. “It was an upset first of all and it was kind of like the first time that Park has gone to anything further than the first or second round so it was pretty cool to be a part of that.”

Park won that Section 3AAAA semifinal at Eagan with Henderson, Elsa Olson and Justine Jameson each scoring 11 points. Park will have a chance to win at Eagan this week.

The sixth-seeded Wolfpack play a first-round Section 3AAAA contest at third-seeded Eagan (16-10) on Wednesday, Feb. 28, starting at 7 p.m. Eagan defeated Park 66-37 during the regular season on Feb. 7. It’s the third straight year Park and Eagan have met in the section playoffs.

Rosemount drew the top seed and a first-round bye. In other quarterfinals, second-seeded Eastview plays seventh-seeded Bloomington Jefferson and fourth-seeded Burnsville plays fifth-seeded Hastings.