Park Center's Quinton Hooker controlled the inbound pass during th e last seconds of the sectional finals in Rogers, Min., Friday, March 15, 2013. Park Center won 73-71 over Osseo. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) email@example.com
Loose balls littered the court Friday night in Rogers, as Park Center overcame foul trouble and sloppy mistakes to outlast Osseo 73-71 and advance to its first state tournament since 1997.
“We kept fighting and we kept playing,” Park Center coach Broderick Powell said. “We didn’t shoot the ball so well and we didn’t do some things as well as we normally do, but we found a way to win.”
Predictably, Quinton Hooker was the star of the show.
Hooker drilled an off-balance three-pointer over Osseo’s Bridge Tusler in the game’s final minutes, swinging the momentum back to the Pirates for good during a roller-coaster second half. Junior guard Isaiah McKay followed with a three-pointer, then grabbed a loose ball and added three more points to Park Center’s tally. The Orioles kept it close, but Hooker’s last-minute free throws clinched the win. He finished with 27 points.
Tusler opened the game with an air-balled three-point heave, setting the tone for his next 16 minutes of play. But he scored eight consecutive, helping his team grab a slim advantage at halftime. Tusler scored 21 points.
Whistles seemed to blow every possession, and both teams struggled with fouls. Tusler and McKay each racked up four fouls. Hooker had three.
“I saw how the refs were calling the game,” Hooker said of the foul trouble, “but you just had to adjust to it and keep playing through.”
Osseo’s Wheeler Baker kept the game close late by poking a ball free and racing down the court to slam down two of his 19 points.
“It was a great win for our team,” Hooker said. “It was a lot of fun. It feels great, but state’s next week so we’ve got to get refocused.”