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Laker boys basketball rocks Panthers by 40

Brian Basham/TRIBUNE Laker senior Reed Oistad (22) flies through the lane to put up a shot Friday night against Park Rapids.1 / 2
Brian Basham/TRIBUNE Sophomore Josh Stalberger (23) puts up a shot against Park Rapids Friday night in Ralph Anderson Gym.2 / 2

DETROIT LAKES - With a full capacity crowd on hand to watch Minnesota Timberwolves mascot "Crunch" entertain with his high-flying dunking act, the Detroit Lakes boys' basketball team put a crunch of their own on visiting Park Rapids Friday night.

The Lakers went at the Panthers with some furious defense and an effective offense to pummel Park Rapids 69-29.

The tone was set early, as DL broke to a 13-3 lead with 12:02 still remaining in the first half, and things just got worse for the Panthers. The Lakers maintained heavy pressure defensively and keyed their offense with an effective high-percentage inside game to build a 41-17 halftime lead.

"I was very pleased with the guys' intensity and how hard the went after Park Rapids," said DL head coach Robb Flint. "They went out and played harder, faster and more physical. I told them before the game, let's go at them and punish them and wear them out."

That plan of attack worked to perfection, as DL bolted out to the big lead and held the Panthers to three points all the way up to the 8:37 mark in the first half.

By then, DL was up 17-3, as the Lakers' two posts -- sophomore Josh Stalberger and Kyle Muckenhirn -- had 16 points combined by halftime.

Senior guards Reed Oistad and Mike Beeson controlled the possession and opened up both Stalberger and Muckenhirn with slashing moves that helped them penetrate the lane, thus creating the close shot.

"We had 12 turnovers in the first half, but they were aggressive turnovers and I can live with those," Flint said. "I am more comfortable with the guards pushing the ball up the floor.

"Kyle Muckenhirn did a good job on the boards and Josh wasn't fading away on his shots, instead he was going to the bucket."

Junior Alex Guetter also had a hot hand, scoring a game-high 13 points.

Flint also employed a hockey-like rotation. Instead of substituting one or two players at a time, he went by shifts, subbing five players at a time.

"We have been playing 11 to 12 guys anyway, so I kind of went like hockey had had lines going in at a time," Flint added. "I think that wore Park Rapids out too."

The Lakers kept the pressure on to start the second half by going on an 11-2 run to go up 52-19 with 14:02 remaining in regulation.

Stalberger finished with 10 points and three blocks, while Muckenhirn had six points and Joe Mollberg eight.

Eleven different Lakers scored to help them snap a four-game losing streak.

The Panthers were led by Dillon Theis with 11 points.

The excitement was pumped up to another level with Crunch supplying plenty of energy in a thrilling halftime show, which had people on their feet throughout the entire performance.

"The kids felt good seeing all those people in the stands," Flint said. "It was the most packed I've seen our gym. It was also nice to see all the young kids out to see the game."

DL (3-7) will host St. Cloud Apollo (10-2) Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Laker results

Park Rapids at Detroit Lakes, Friday, Jan. 16.

Panthers 17 12 - 29

Lakers 41 28 - 69

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts)

DL: Max Knoll 0-0-3-5-3; Joe Mollberg 2-0-4-5-8; Tyler Fode 1-0-0-0-2; Mike Beeson 1-0-1-1-3; Connor Hedstrom 3-0-2-3-8; Brady Johnson 0-1-0-0-3; Reed Oistad 2-0-0-0-4; Josh Stalberger 4-0-2-2-10; Alex Guetter 6-0-1-1-13; Zane Kotschevar 2-0-0-0-4; Kyle Muckenhirn 3-0-0-1-6. Total: 24-2-15-20-69.

PR: Dillon Theis 3-1-2-2-11; Paul Dirks 0-0-4-6-4; Dylan Walsh 4-0-1-2-9; Kevin Vaadeland 0-0-3-4-3; Trevor Matheny 0-0-1-4-1. Total: 7-1-11-18-29.