Park girls basketball: Wolfpack off to 3-1 start
The Park girls basketball team didn’t schedule any cupcakes to open the 2013-14 season. The Wolfpack took on four of the best teams in its section, Section 3AAAA, to start the year – and came away with a 3-1 record.
Last week Park took down Rosemount 60-41 on Tuesday at home before traveling to Eagan and beating the Wildcats 54-43.
“It wasn’t an easy two weeks by any means and we’re 3-1,” head coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. “We took on what we consider the top teams in our section. I expected those to be really close games. As the games went on our kids made plays. I think our defense has done a pretty good job of getting stops when we need to, too.”
Park’s only loss this year has been to nemesis Eastview, who should be ranked as the No. 1 team in the state this week after beating Hopkins last week. The Lightning (5-0) topped Park 40-31 in the season-opener.
“I think we’re a little under-the-radar this year,” Tolkinen said. “I don’t know if there’s any true expectations this year. We have a bit of a chip on our shoulder and we think we have something to prove. We think we’re a pretty good team.”
This past week was a big one for Park senior guard and team captain Sydney Lamberty. In addition to breaking Park’s all-time scoring record, Lamberty — a Creighton University recruit — totaled 52 points, had 11 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots in the two wins.
“She’s really embraced that role of a leader this year,” Tolkinen said. “It’s really nice to be able to give her instructions and have her carry them out on the floor. She’s a student of the game and has a high basketball IQ. She understands when we need to make adjustments during the game and why. She’s one of the most unselfish players that I know. She wants her teammates to be involved in the game. One thing we’ve tried to teach her over the years is that sometimes keeping the ball or taking a shot isn’t being selfish. There’s times that’s in the best interest of the team.”
In the win over Rosemount (1-3), Lamberty scored a game-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds. In addition, Park senior Temi Ogunrinde had a double-double with 10 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
“She’s done a ton on the rebounding side and doing some scoring for us too,” Tolkinen said of Ogunrinde.
Also, Park sophomore center Ally Gorres scored seven points and had eight rebounds for the Wolfpack as she worked her way back from a back injury and junior point guard Carlie Williams had four steals and three assists.
Against Eagan (0-3), Lamberty again led all scorers with 26 points to go along with seven rebounds. Park junior Annie Williams also had a good all-around game with 10 points, seven steals and four rebounds.
“Annie had one of the best nights she’s ever had for us in that game,” Tolkinen said.
In addition, Ogunrinde had three points, seven rebounds and five steals, Carlie Williams scored seven points and Gorres came up with four rebounds and two blocks in the win.
Park begins Suburban East Conference play this week. The Wolfpack traveled to rival East Ridge (3-0) on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to print. Park has never lost to the Raptors to date. Next, Park is at Roseville (5-0) on Friday.
“We have some kids that are starting to feel their way around,” Tolkinen said. “I think we’re going to start emerging here.”