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Park girls hang on to beat visiting East Ridge

Park senior guard Chloe Venegas harasses East Ridge's Ellie Swanson as she brings the ball up court in the first half Tuesday. John Molene / Sports Writer 1 / 2
Park senior Molly Wenner goes up for a shot against tough East Ridge interior defense in the second half. Wenner led the Wolfpack with 20 points in Park's 44-33 victory Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. John Molene / Sports Writer 2 / 2

Park’s five starting seniors got to end their regular season home careers with a win, but visiting East Ridge made them work for it.

Park snapped a two-game losing streak with a 44-33 victory over winless East Ridge Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Suburban East Conference girls basketball.

Park led just 16-15 at the half and it was just a 36-31 Park advantage with two minutes to play. But the Wolfpack outscored the Raptors 8-2 in the last two minutes to close it out.

“The shots just weren’t dropping,” Park coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. “I felt we got some shots out of our offense. I think their strategy, their game plan was very good against us. They have size against us and they were able to use that size against us defensively. It was just hard for us to get that ball in the paint and you can’t play that inside game if your outside game not working.

“Our outside game was a struggle,” Tolkinen added. “And even our mid-range shots that we were getting at times weren’t dropping either so again we rely on the defense to get the ball for us, to give us the opportunities and I think all in all our defense really did a great job for us.”

The Wolfpack finally found their shooting touches in the second half as the Raptors packed it in and dared the Wolfpack to beat them from the outside. Park did so, but it took awhile.

“I think we put a lot of pressure on them but not so well, our traps weren’t the hardest and we struggled getting over,” Park junior Saren Croker said. “But then we picked it up and I thought our transition game was really good tonight.”

The Wolfpack improved to 18-7 overall and 9-6 in the conference.

East Ridge dropped to 0-25 and 0-15 in the SEC.

Molly Wenner scored 20 points to pace the Wolfpack offensively. Delaney Young had 11 and Riley Perryman 10.

Junior forward Chloe Stoehr led East Ridge with 12 points.

Park finishes the regular season Friday in a game at White Bear Lake (12-13, 7-8), starting at 7:15 p.m.

East Ridge closes the regular season at home Friday against Forest Lake (15-10, 8-7).

Section play then starts Wednesday, Feb. 28.

“We’re slowly putting everything together and this is it,” Park junior Annika Theurer said. "We’re ramping up and getting ready.”

Editor's note: The headline of this story was changed Feb. 22, 2018.