Park girls basketball: Tough week yields back-to-back losses for WolfpackLast week, the Park girls basketball team lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
Last week, the Park girls basketball team lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season. Park lost a close game with fellow Suburban East Conference leader Roseville, then uncharacteristically dropped a winnable game to Cretin-Derham Hall three nights later.
The losses dropped Park (17-7; 12-4 SEC) into fourth place in the conference standings with two regular-season games remaining.
The Wolfpack began the week at ninth-ranked Roseville, falling 49-44. Park led 22-21 at the half and worked its way to a 10-point second-half lead with roughly 10 minutes to play. However, Roseville chipped away, took the lead in the last few minutes and the Wolfpack was unable to get it back. The win helped the Raiders (21-3; 14-2 SEC) avenge a 47-45 loss to Park back on Jan. 10 in Cottage Grove.
“It was a disappointing loss, but I am proud of our girls for fighting,” Park head coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. “There was a great atmosphere there with the Roseville fans and a lot of Wolfpack fans that made the trip to the game. Hopefully this game will help us be better when we have a tight game like that in sections and hopefully we will be able get the W.”
Park sophomore Sydney Lamberty led all scorers in the game with 20 points. Sophomore Temi Ogunrinde added seven points, senior Rachel Kothe had five points and guards Larissa Lurken and Annie Williams each had four points.
A slow start and foul trouble plagued Park in a 62-53 loss to Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday, Feb. 17, in St. Paul. Cretin-Derham Hall led most of the game, taking a 27-24 lead on the Wolfpack in the first half, then keeping Park at bay with a 35-29 second half.
“We got off to a slow start and didn’t establish any real flow all night,” Tolkinen said. “There were a lot of whistles and we had players in foul trouble early. We were in the game the whole time, but just couldn’t put together any type of momentum. It seemed like every time we got something going on one end, we would have something happen on the other end.”
Park had the edge in nearly every category in the game. However, Cretin-Derham Hall shot a sparkling 50 percent from the field, compared to Park, which was well below 30 percent from the floor.
“When you make 30 of 39 free throws, force more turnovers, and are pretty equal on the rebounding, you should win. But when they make more baskets in the paint then we do, the rest doesn’t factor in,” Tolkinen said. “We have to get better on defense.”
Lurken led all scorers in the game with 20 points, while Lamberty netted 11 points and senior Jenna Joswiak chipped in nine points.
At the week’s start, all that remained were the only two conference teams Park had not yet beaten this year – Mounds View on Tuesday, Feb. 21, and White Bear Lake on Friday, Feb. 24. Friday’s game against the Bears will be Park’s Senior Night. Tip off is 7 p.m. and fans are welcome to stay after the game for snacks, refreshments and to visit with the Wolfpack players.
Tolkinen believed the team can solve its issues for the stretch run.
“It can be fixed and I believe the girls will come out hungry this week to avenge losses to Mounds View and White Bear Lake in our final regular season games,” she said.