Park boys basketball: Wolfpack win by 30
Park found a home court advantage to be just what the doctor ordered.
In rare back-to-back home games with the Park girls team, the Wolfpack boys basketball team beat South St. Paul 75-45 on Friday night in front of a full house at the Park gym.
“The win tonight feels good,” said Park senior Sully Brenke. “Winning by 30 points is a great improvement for us. It’s nice to get back in the swing of things and give a good performance for our fans.”
Park head coach J Schwartz said the double-header, coupled with junior varsity games, youth games in the Park Activity Center and Cottage Grove Athletic Association night made for a special atmosphere.
“The community is wonderful,” Schwartz said. “I love Cottage Grove and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. This shows on a night like to night how much pride people have.”
Park (2-3) shot 58 percent from the field in the game, including 63 percent on its 2-point field goals, and held South St. Paul (1-2) to just 14 second-half points in the lopsided win.
“We made shots,” Schwartz said. “The game is a lot easier when you make shots. We came out and made a couple right away which helps a ton. On the defensive end, they were collectively into it. We’re going to need that.”
After opening up a 38-31 first-half lead, Park outscored the Packers 37-14 in the second half.
“I think this is more of what we expected than the last two games,” Brenke said. “We were a little more positive, had more energy and actually made our shots tonight. It’s hard to win if you don’t put the ball in the basket. I hope we can keep this up and have a good season.”
Four different players scored in double figures for Park in the win. Junior forward Connor Kvendru led the way with a team-high 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting and added five rebounds. Senior guard Ryan Klika scored 13 points, junior Jeb Melson had 12 points and junior Anthony Juba scored 10 points. Park senior forward Patrick Morrisey chipped in seven points and had a team-high nine rebounds.
The win by Park came of back-to-back losses to non-conference foes. On Wednesday, Nov. 27, Park fell 74-31 to Mahtomedi (3-2) at home. Then, on Tuesday, Dec. 3, Park fell 63-35 to North St. Paul (1-3) on the road.
“We came out with a lot of good energy We stressed team basketball this week,” Schwartz said. “That got away from us against Mahtomedi and North. We challenged the guys to come together. We watched a lot of tape and said to come up with one thing they can improve. They took that to heart.”
Park took on rival Woodbury (3-1) on Tuesday, after the Bulletin went to press. Next, Park is at Hastings (2-3) on Friday. The Wolfpack beat Hastings in overtime last season.
“There’s never a night off,” Schwartz said. “Every game is a battle and a war. We’ll have our hands full, but tonight will help us.”