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Lakeville North upsets top-seeded Park Center in Class 4A semifinals

March 21, 2019 10:07 PM

Lakeville North recorded an upset of a higher seeded team for the second time in just more than 24 hours with a 47-45 victory over No. 1 Park Center in the Class AAAA semifinals of the boys basketball state tournament Thursday, March 21 at Target Center.

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The No. 5-seeded Panthers (27-4) bolted to a stunning lead in the first half and then endured anxious moments to earn a berth in the big-school championship game for the fourth time since 2012 and first since 2016. In the three previous championship-game appearances, the Panthers were the Class AAAA runner-ups in 2012 and 2016. Lakeville North won the Class AAAA crown in 2014. 

Senior guard Tyler Wahl made the second of two free throws with 1 minute 3 seconds remaining in regulation time to give the Panthers a 47-40 advantage. But Park Center (29-2), who trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half, scored the final five points to close the gap. Senior guard Emmanuel Tamba drew the Pirates to within 47-45 on a layup with 17 seconds remaining in regulation. Throughout the final minutes of regulation, Lakeville North played keep-away in a spread offense designed to drain the clock. But the Panthers couldn’t add to its lead when they missed free throw opportunities. 

Park Center, which outscored Lakeville North 31-16 in the second half, had an opportunity to force overtime, but Tamba missed a short jumper as the horn sounded. The Pirates were attempting to earn a spot in the Class AAAA championship game for the second time since 2013 when it was runner-up to Apple Valley. 

Senior guard Tommy Jensen led Lakeville North with 16 points and three steals. Senior guard Tyler Wahl had 11 points and 15 rebounds. During the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Lakeville North upset No. 4 Eden Prairie. In 2016, the Panthers upset No. 1 seeded Osseo in the semifinals. 

Lakeville North bolted from the start and led by as many as 21 points in a first-half of domination. Jensen had 11 points in the first and senior forward Jack Rusch chipped in nine as the Panthers shot 48 percent from the field (12 of 25), including 5 of 9 from three-point range. Park Center, meanwhile, couldn’t find its scoring stroke and made just 4 of 22 shots and committing nine turnovers. 

Tamba led the Pirates with 16 points while junior forward Dain Dainja had 11 points and 11 rebounds. 

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