Down 20-12 at the half, the Park Wolfpack flipped the switch in the second half and took home a 43-35 win over host Eagan in the season opener Tuesday.
Senior post player Delaney Young scored 14 points and senior guard Taylor Johnson added 10 — all after intermission — to key the Park offense.
Delaney is just a difference maker on offense," Park coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. "We wanted to try and get her the ball because we know that either she's going to score or they're going to collapse and she can kick it out and have Taylor open for a three. And other times she's getting fouled and going to the free-throw line and scoring. Just the times that she touches the ball always makes a huge difference. When she's on, they have to worry her and then that opens up the game for our guards."
It was an aggressive Park defense and defensive rebounding which really turned the game around in the second half. The Wolfpack forced turnovers and bad shots and took advantage of both after the break. Eagan rarely got a second shot if the first one failed to drop.
Park outscored Eagan 31-15 in the second half.
"Our defense kind of created the offense for us many times," Tolkinen said. "I thought our kids had a lot more composure in the second half on offense, understanding how to play against the defense. They (the Wildcats) were switching up a lot of their man and their zone and stuff, and just calming down and not going at such a hectic pace was the first thing."
A Young drive to the basket and a three by Riley Perryman jump-started the Wolfpack to start the second half as they outscored the Wildcats 6-0 to open the second half. Park caught the Wildcats at 28-all then took the lead on a 3-pointer by Taylor with 6:34 to play.
"Our defense totally picked up in the second half which brought our team back, and the energy just picked up in the gym," Johnson said. "Once we started to move the ball around it shifted their defense so then we got more open looks and more open drives to penetrate and kick it out."
Park never trailed again and gradually pulled away for an eight-point win.
"The first half I was in foul trouble, so I got to watch the game a lot more," Young said. "And I realized that we just needed more energy and more hustle plays to win. We tried to work more in-and-out better because we just make it better when it comes from the inside to go out."
Perryman scored eight points and Chloe Venegas six for the Wolfpack.
Park played without starting guard Molly Wenner, who expected to be out another week or so.
Park also defeated Apple Valley 58-44 to start the season 2-0. Perryman led with 21 points while Johnson finished with 11.
Park has a busy schedule this week, playing at St. Paul Central on Tuesday, Dec. 5 before playing Mounds View at home Thursday, Dec. 7 and Rogers at home Saturday, Dec. 9.