Culture change: Park seniors build foundation to boys’ basketball program
It’s a simple word that has many meanings to the Park boys’ basketball team.
Culture means the diversity of talent and players amongst the team no matter the classification of the player.
Culture means how players interact and learn from each other at practices and games to further help themselves.
Most importantly, culture means directing the team into a future whether the player is still on the team or graduates.
“These six seniors laid the foundation and changed the culture of this program,” said Park head coach Mike Weah. “They have meant everything to this program and especially this season to create a bright future.”
Those six seniors include Charlie Gorres, Domenik Block, Jeremiah Smith, Milton Carnes, AJ Morrison and Isiah Dancy, and they came together at the start of the season and told themselves they wanted to change the culture of this program.
“We wanted to change the program and the future of Park basketball,” Gorres said. “This season was just the beginning of what this team is capable of in the future.”
The seniors have been through a lot. Their freshman year, the varsity team went 10-16 in the regular season with a loss in the first round of sections. The record decreased to 7-19 during their sophomore year and another loss in the first round of the section tournament.
Their junior season was the bottom, falling to 6-20 with yet another first round loss in the section tournament.
These six seniors were determined to change the course of history and make Park a name across the Cities.
“We knew it would take everyone’s highest effort day in and day out,” Block said. “We also knew that every player on this team was ready to give it their all for this season.”
For Weah, he consistently started a lineup filled with five seniors and having Dancy on the bench as a sixth-man. It was the perfect combination, using everyone’s strengths to make history.
This season, the players and coaches will remember the little things like the practices each day that put a smile on Weah’s face and all of the players.
Those strong practices led the Wolfpack to earn wins over Woodbury and Roseville for the first time in over 10 years. Along with those wins, the Wolfpack continued their dominance with sweeps over conference opponents Woodbury, Forest Lake and Mounds View.
At the end of the regular season, Park ended in a tie for fourth place with a 7-9 conference record. The Wolfpack also improved their record from last season to 11-15 on the year. The best record these seniors have been a part of in their high school careers.
After a strong finish to the season, the Wolfpack had a big honor of hosting a first round section game as they earned the No. 4 seed in the Section 3AAAA tournament.
“These victories throughout the season will stay with me for a long time,” Gorres said. “This season has been so much fun and sharing it with these guys makes it even better.”
Weah said the seniors laid the foundation of a new program at Park and took the steps needed to gain interest in the community. He believes that with a strong youth program, more basketball players will want to be a Wolfpack player in the future.
“A lot of these youth players looked up to these seniors and wanted to be like Charlie or Domenik,” Weah said. “These seniors not only played a role on the team, but made an impact on the community.”
Even though the season may be over for Park, the memories and impact of this season will stay forever in the players’ and coaches’ minds.
There have been buzzer-beaters, career nights, 1,000 career-point nights and upset wins. But the biggest change? The culture of Park boys’ basketball.