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DL opens vs. Park Rapids in playoffs

After closing out the regular season with consecutive wins over Thief River Falls and Park Rapids, the Detroit Lakes boys' basketball team was awarded the No. 2 seed in the lower bracket of the upcoming Section 8-3A playoffs.

The Lakers' opponent will be a very familiar one in Park Rapids, which finished with the No. 3 seed. DL will host the Panthers Thursday inside Ralph Anderson Gym, beginning at 7 p.m.

The Lakers have had good success against the Panthers, going 2-0 against their Mid-State foe. DL head coach Wade Johnson hopes his team can put the keys from each win together for a third victory.

"In the first game, we shot well and in the second, we played good defense," Johnson said. "It would be nice to be able to do both (Thursday)."

The Lakers, who finished with an 8-15 record and 5-5 in conference play, will be vying to reach their goal of playing at St. Cloud State University Saturday, which would be in the Section 8-3A semifinals.

"That was their goal at the beginning of the season," Johnson said of playing at SCSU.

Before they pack the bus for Halenbeck Hall at SCSU, however, the Lakers need to get past Park Rapids -- and it will be a challenge.

"They are bigger than us at every spot, so it will be a tough game for us," Johnson said. "We want to keep it close and win it at the end."

That's what DL did in its last meeting with Park Rapids Feb. 24. After a nip-and-tuck game, senior guard Dustin Long hit a buzzer-beating shot for the 46-44 victory.

The task would only get tougher if DL advances, especially if No. 1-seeded Rocori tops No. 4 Little Falls.

"Rocori is loaded," Johnson said. "Willmar (the upper bracket second seed) and Rocori are the clear favorites, with Rocori a little better than Willmar."

Fergus Falls holds the top seed in the upper bracket and will face No. 4 Thief River Falls, while Willmar will host No. 3 Litchfield.

Lakers close out

regular season

At the very least, DL is looking like a team that's peaking at the right time of year.

The Lakers put together a complete effort to defeat visiting Thief River Falls Friday by the score of 72-50.

"We played perhaps our most complete game of the year," Johnson said. "Adam Thielen had an outstanding game, and got us going out of the gate."

Thielen hit for 24 points, while his backcourt mate, junior Nils Thomsen, finished with 16. Jarod Griffith and Long each had eight points in the victory. Matt Kensinger also netted seven points off the bench.

"Long and Matt Kensinger also played very well off the bench, giving us depth we need," Johnson stated.

DL shot one of its best percentages in quite sometime, finishing 27-50 for a 54 percent mark. TRF shot a much lower 33.3 percent.

Kyle Lunke led the Prowlers with 15 points, while Alex Yaggie had 14.

Laker results

Thief River Falls at Detroit Lakes, Friday, March 3.

Prowlers 22 28 - 50

Lakers 41 31 - 72

DL: Adam Thielen 24, Nils Thomsen 16, Jarod Griffith 8, Dustin Long 8, Matt Kensinger 7, Marly Simmons 5, Reed Oistad 2, Chris Gilson 2.

TRF: Alex Yaggie 14, Lee Peterson 9, Ryan Winkelman 7, Jeremy Sich 2, Jacob Stuckey 2, Chase Haviland 1, Kyle Lunke 15.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.