Park girls basketball: Loss to Woodbury a ‘wake-up call’Woodbury turned the tables on Park, upsetting the ninth-ranked Wolfpack 47-38 on Tuesday, Dec. 11, in Woodbury.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, South Washington County Bulletin
Last year an upstart Park girls basketball team walked into Woodbury High School and beat the Suburban East Conference and intra-district rival Royals for the first time in four years. This season, however, Woodbury turned the tables on Park, upsetting the ninth-ranked Wolfpack 47-38 on Tuesday, Dec. 11, in Woodbury.
The Royals (4-2; 1-1 SEC) held Park to a season-low in scoring, including an 18-point second half. Only senior guard Larissa Lurken, a Division 1 recruit, scored in double figures for the Wolfpack. The future Kent State University player had a game-high 11 points. Woodbury’s own Division 1 player, Kristina White – a guard who will attend Vermont next fall – led the Royals’ balanced attack with 10 points. In all, eight players scored for Woodbury. Kayla Bilski added nine points and Mikaela Hunter scored eight points for the Royals as well. Junior Sydney Lamberty chipped in nine points for Park.
“Our loss to Woodbury was a wake-up call for us that we needed to figure some things out within our team,” Park head coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. “The girls worked very hard in practice and we set some goals that will help us be more focused on what we need to do for each game.”
Park bounced back from the loss to Woodbury with resounding wins over SEC rival East Ridge and section opponent Rosemount. The Wolfpack found themselves down 29-26 to the Raptors at the half in Cottage Grove on Friday, but outscored East Ridge 41-19 in the second half to win 67-48 and stay unbeaten by the Raptors (6-1; 1-1 SEC).
“Coming into the East Ridge game the girls were disappointed in our performance against Woodbury. That was a very winnable game, but we just couldn’t put a run together and make the necessary defensive stops,” Tolkinen said. “The attitude was very different for our game against East Ridge. I think the girls wanted to prove to each other and to our fans that we are a better team than the one that played Tuesday night.”
Lurken led the way in the win with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Lamberty nearly delivered a triple-double in the game with 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Junior forward Temi Ogunrinde led the way on the glass with 10 rebounds to go along with six points. Also, senior center Courtney Waldo had seven points.
“We came into the game against East Ridge knowing they were a much improved team,” Tolkinen said. “We took nothing for granted. It was a very competitive first half of basketball. At halftime we talked about some things we needed to clean up on the defensive end and with rebounding. We also were able to get Courtney and Temi more involved in the offense. That was huge for us.”
On Saturday in Rosemount, Park expanded a 37-34 halftime lead into a 16-point win with a 32-19 second half.
“That was a very similar scenario for us against Rosemount,” Tolkinen said. “We didn’t know a lot about Rosemount, so we had to make adjustments as we went along. The girls came out strong and just got better as the game went along. Everyone played together and made some really nice plays on both ends of the court.”
Lamberty exploded for a monster double-double, scoring a game-high 26 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Lurken scored 19 points on 11-of-14 shooting and had eight rebounds and Ogunrinde had 8 rebounds and five points, while Waldo chipped in seven points.
Park had 40 rebounds in the game as a team, scoring 14 points and put-backs and allowed the Irish (3-4) to grab five offensive rebounds.
“I felt we were able to control the boards throughout the night,” Tolkinen said. “We bounced back from our loss over Woodbury and got wins over East Ridge and Rosemount Friday night and Saturday. I am so proud of our girls for putting together two team wins.”