Park girls basketball: Lurken, Lamberty finish season 1-2 in scoring in SEC
The Park girls basketball team capped another stellar regular season with a pair of solid Suburban East Conference wins.
Park, which is ranked 10th in Class AA, took down rival White Bear Lake for a second time this year, 65-48, in the regular-season finale on Friday, Feb. 22, in White Bear Lake, days after beating Mounds View 65-56 on the road.
The wins helped Park finish 21-5 overall and 15-3 in the conference which was good for second place in the SEC.
"I am very proud of our girls how they have grown and continued to improve throughout this season," Park head coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. "Every player has improved in one aspect or another and it is beginning to show. We are getting significant contributions from each player whether it be on defense, rebounding, or scoring. I feel we are coming around at the right time. Kids are putting things together and figuring out how to play. It is fun to see their growth."
Individually, Park senior Larissa Lurken and junior Sydney Lamberty finished first and second, respectively, in scoring in the SEC. Lurken averaged a league-best 19.3 points per game. Lamberty was second at 18.1 points per game.
Against the Bears (13-13; 12-6 SEC), Lurken exploded for a season-high 36 points and Lamberty scored 12 points. The Wolfpack opened up a 36-14 halftime lead and never looked back.
Tolkinen said it's been since at least 2008 since Park won at White Bear Lake.
"The team was determined to break the losing streak there," she said. "We got off to a very fast start by playing good defense and capitalizing on opportunities to run. I thought the girls did a really nice job of recognizing and attacking the defense. The girls moved pretty well and moved the ball well. The girls wanted to finish the regular season strong as we prepare to go into section play."
In the win over Mounds View, Lurken scored a game-high 32 points and had 12 offensive rebounds to lead the Wolfpack. Mounds View (14-12; 10-8 SEC) kept Park close the whole night. The Wolfpack took a slim 33-27 lead at the half. After being tied 50-50, Park was able to pull away by making some big shots and free throws down the stretch. Lurken alone was 11-for-13 from the line.
Eighth players scored in the win for Park. Lamberty scored nine points and Annie Williams netted eight points.
Park has a nine-game win streak going heading into the playoffs. The second-seeded Wolfpack opens the Section 3AAAA tournament against seventh-seeded Rosemount (6-20) on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. at Park. A win would pit Park against either third-seeded Apple Valley (15-11) or sixth-seeded Burnsville (5-20) on Saturday at Hamline University. No. 2-ranked Eastview (24-2) is the section's top seed.
"The girls know we have to take one game at a time and we cannot take anything for granted," Tolkinen said. "Rosemount is a better team than their record indicates ... We really want to get back to Hamline and get the opportunity to be in the championship game next week."