Maple Grove Junior Henry Stang (10) pushes past Park Center's Casmir Chavis (11) to move the ball into Pirates territory. Photo by Aiyanna Taylor, SportsEngine
Maple Grove shot 63% from the free-throw line on Friday night, making 17 of its 27 attempts. A few of their misses came down the stretch to allow Park Center to stay in the game. With nine seconds left and the Crimson leading by two, Raoul Vaidya stepped up to the line for two free throws. The senior guard missed the front end, and Park Center called a timeout to ice Vaidya and draw up a play at a possible game-winning shot. During the timeout, Vaidya was convinced his next trip to the line would go differently.
“I have confidence in myself,” Vaidya said. “Coach Schroeder is coaching us like I’m going to make that free throw. Just knowing that everyone has confidence in me, I knew I had that free throw.”
That’s exactly what happened, as Vaidya buried the shot to put the Crimson up by three. The Pirates then got a look at three, but it fell short and the Crimson faithful stormed the court after a 67-64 win over the Pirates.
Park Center guard CJ O'Hara (1) flies over the heads of Maple Grove defenders, scoring for the Pirates in the second half. Photo by Aiyanna Taylor, SportsEngine
Maple Grove ended its regular season with an upset against Park Center as the Crimson downed the Pirates 67-64 at home on Friday night.
JJ Ware started the game out hot for the Pirates, who are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, as the junior hit four three-pointers in the first few minutes of action. The Crimson defense was able to respond and held the Pirates for a long stretch in the first half, allowing them to build a lead as large as seven points. Lincoln Palbicki’s knack for second-chance points helped as well, as he had 10 points and five rebounds in the first half. He finished the game as the No. 18-4A Crimson’s leading scorer and rebounder, recording 14 and 8, respectively.
The Pirates didn’t stay down for long though. Jackson Fowlkes brought defensive energy off the bench and helped bring the deficit down to one point at halftime as the Pirates trailed 37-36 at the break.
The second half remained a tight battle, but Maple Grove never lost its lead. The Crimson were able to get their lead as high as 12, but the Pirates (23-2, 17-2) never went away as they remained aggressive and never let the Crimson (20-6, 15-4) get comfortable.
The Crimson backcourt of Raoul Vaidya and Henry Stang did just enough to handle the pressure and see the game home.
Crimson junior Braedy Laliberte (21) jumps to shoot over Pirate guard JJ Ware (22), making the first basket for the Crimson in the first half. Photo by Aiyanna Taylor, SportsEngine
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