Boys State Basketball: Park Center beats Wayzata 58-53 for Class 4A Championship

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One last championship was earned on Saturday, March 26, 2022, a title that ended a marathon of Minnesota State High School League winter state tournament events. And that title, the third of the day, went to a member school that had never won a crown in boys basketball.

Top-seeded Park Center ended a season of dominance and a tag as the team to beat in Class AAAA with a dramatic 58-53 victory over Wayzata in the Class AAAA championship game in front of a rousing crowd at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. Senior guard Cody Pennebacker was a Pirates’ ignitor throughout in scoring 23 points to help send Park Center to its first championship in six state tournament appearances.

Earlier in the thrilling four-game championship event to culminate the boys basketball season, Annandale (Class AA) and Totino-Grace (Class AAA) were also first-time champions. In the Class A title game to open Championship Saturday, Hayfield successfully defended its crown.

Before they could let loose and celebrate, Park Center first had to survive a whirlwind of drama in the final moments. The Pirates (31-1), who ended the season on a 19-game winning streak, built a 49-40 lead with just more than five minutes remaining in regulation. But Wayzata (27-5), the defending Class AAAA champion, answered with a 13-6 run to draw within 55-53 with 36.7 seconds remaining in regulation.

That margin narrowed when senior guard Drew Berkland made a deep three-pointer to give the Trojans renewed life. But Wayzata was unable to inch closer as the Pirates capped their season at the free-throw line to gain some separation.

Junior guard Hayden Tibbits led the Trojans with 13 points and senior forward Carter Bjerke had 12.

It was Park Center’s second victory over Wayzata this season. The other came in a 66-62 win on Dec. 11 in the third game of the year.

Park Center used a late surge in the first half to build a 28-21 lead at the break. Senior forward Cody Pennebaker hit a three-pointer with just more than a minute remaining to give the Pirates the seven-point advantage.

Senior forward Ayouba Berthe led the Pirates with 11 points in the first half and Pennebaker had nine. All of Pennebaker’s points came on three made three-pointers.

Wayzata led by as many as six points early in the first half. Junior guard Hayden Tibbits and senior forward Carter Bjerke had six points each to pace the Trojans.