Park Center guard Emmanuel Tamba (20) launched a last-second shot over Lakeville North guard Josh Kamara (1) to try to tie the game but it failed to drop. Photo: JEFF WHEELER • email@example.com
John Oxton mouthed the words almost silently rather than say them out loud, but that made them all the more meaningful.
“Yeah, big relief.”
Oxton was thinking about the final play in Lakeville North’s stressful 47-45 victory over No. 1-seeded Park Center in the Class 4A semifinals.
With 4.1 seconds left in the game Thursday at Target Center, Park Center’s speedy Emmanuel Tamba, whose energy had sparked a big second-half comeback, drove left. He pulled up about 10 feet from the basket. But his off-balance shot caromed off the backboard and the rim as time ran out, sending Lakeville North to championship game for the fourth time since 2012.
The Panthers won the title in 2014.
The game started like Lakeville North was going to run Park Center off the court. Using the muscle of twins Will and Eli Mostaert to take away the Pirates inside-out attack, they repeatedly turned missed shots into transition baskets, taking a 16-2 lead.
Park Center, which shot 66.7 percent in the quarterfinals, continued to miss from the floor and the Lakeville North lead continued to mount, It reached its largest margin at 24-4 when Panthers’ guard Jack Rusch hit a three-pointer with 5:05 left in the half. Park Center shot just 18.2 percent in the first half and trailed 31-14 at the break.
“They weren’t making shots, we were getting out in transition and getting easy baskets,” Oxton said.
One terrific half of basketball proved enough for Lakeville North, which took a 17-point halftime lead, then hung on to defeat No. 1 seeded Park Center 47-45 in the Class 4A semifinals.
Tommy Jensen scored 16 points and Tyler Wahl had 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Panthers (27-4)
Park Center got within two, 47-45, on a layup by Emmanuel Tamba with 17 seconds left.
Lakeville North's Carter Patterson missed two free throws with 9.4 seconds left, giving Park Center one more possession, but Tamba's short jumper from the wing missed.
Tamba finished with 16 points and Dain Dainja had 11 for Park Center (29-2).
Check back later for more on the game.