Not today: Wolfpack denied revenge by EastviewEastview, currently ranked second in the state in Class AAAA, beat Park 58-43 on Park’s home-opening night in Cottage Grove.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The Park girls basketball team may get revenge on Eastview someday. But, it wasn’t Friday.
Eastview, currently ranked second in the state in Class AAAA, beat Park 58-43 on Park’s home-opening night in Cottage Grove. Last year, Eastview ended Park’s season a game shy of a first-ever state tournament appearance with a 52-47 loss in the Section 3AAAA championship game.
This time around, Eastview (4-0) led just 27-26 at the half, but outscored the Wolfpack 31-17 in the second half to hand Park its first loss of the year.
“We struggled to score in the second half which led to our downfall,” Park head coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. “I felt we rebounded better in the second half, but we couldn’t get shots to drop. That got frustrating. Although we lost, I am confident we will bounce back. This game was our fourth game of the season. We have a long way to go to prepare for March. I believe we will be a different team come section time.”
Tolkinen said the matchup with Eastview was “an intense and physical game.”
“I thought we did a good job defensively for the most part,” she said. “We needed a couple of other girls to help out with the scoring. (Larissa) Lurken and (Sydney) Lamberty are getting their average, but we need some other kids to look to score.”
Hana Metoxin stepped up for Eastview with 16 points in the first half.
“She is gritty and tough,” Tolkinen said. “She played hard and got our post players in foul trouble. She went and got offensive rebounds for them and made a big impact early in the game.”
On the week, Park (3-1) went 1-1 against teams it may see in the postseason, defeating section for Apple Valley 51-47 on the road on Tuesday.
In the game, Park built a 6-point lead at the half and held on for the win over the Eagles (1-2).
Senior guard Larissa Lurken led the way for the Wolfpack with a game-high 22 points in the win. Sophomore Annie Williams had nine points and junior guard Sydney Lamberty scored seven.
Tolkinen said the team got off to a slow start, but did enough to earn the important win.
“We struggled to make shots and get into any flow,” Tolkinen said. “Our defense picked up play and we were able to convert a nice run going into halftime. It wasn’t a clean game, but the girls were able to find a way to get the ‘W.’ We have some girls that are a little beat up and some that have been fighting illness, but they are battling through it.”
Lurken leads the team with a 22.0 points per game average thus far, followed by Lamberty at 17.7 points per game.
Off its big week last week, Park has two other marquee matchups this week. The Wolfpack took on longtime rival Woodbury (2-1) on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to print to kick off Suburban East Conference play. Next, Park hosts rival East Ridge (5-0) on Friday at Park High School. The game against the Raptors is Park’s alumni night and “Ugly Christmas Sweater Night.”
Tolkinen hopes the loss to Eastview will be a learning experience for her squad going forward.
“We need to learn from this, come to practice and work hard to get better every day,” She said.