After a classic scoring battle between Park Center’s Quinton Hooker and Lakeville North’s JP Macura, it was Park Center’s Isaac Matthews who came up with the biggest points of the game, a tip-in on a missed shot just before the buzzer sounded in overtime to give the Pirates a memorable 74-72 victory over the Panthers in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
With 35 seconds remaining in overtime, the Pirates forced Macura, who a minute earlier had given the Panthers their first lead of the game when he hit a 30-foot three-pointer, into a tough shot from the baseline that missed. Electing to hold for a final possession, Hooker pulled up for a jump shot from 15 feet with two seconds remaining. The shot was no good, but Isaac Matthews was there to elevate and tip in the missed shot with 0.5 seconds left on the clock to give Park Center the win in their first state tournament game since 1997.
Lakeville North, who was defeated on a buzzer-beater by Osseo in last year’s state championship game, engineered a furious comeback just to force overtime. Trailing by as many as 19 in the first half and by 16 with just under 12 minutes in the game, JP Macura caught fire. The 6’4” junior drained three 3-pointers during a 14-2 Lakeville North run, a run that brought the Panthers within four when Connor Flack hit a layup. After Hooker helped push the Pirate lead back up to 10, Panther point guard Grant Erickson engineered a 10-1 Panther run, scoring five points during the run. Zach Creighton capped the run with a three to make the score 64-63 with 2:38 to go, and Lakeville North eventually tied it on a Kyrell Newell layup with 50 seconds to go. They had a chance to win it in regulation, getting the ball back with 10 seconds to go, but the Park Center defense drew a charging foul against Erickson with 1.4 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
Park Center, the #2 seed in the tournament, nearly put this game away in the first half. Playing in front of a boisterous crowd, the Pirates raced out to a 20-5 lead in the first seven minutes. They later pushed the lead out to 17 points on a thunderous putback dunk by Treyton Daniels, and another Daniels dunk two minutes later gave Park Center their largest lead at 36-17 and sent their crowd into a frenzy. That frenzy, however, was calm compared to the reaction when Matthews tipped in the offensive rebound in overtime for the win.
Hooker led Park Center with 29 points and added 10 rebounds, one of three Pirates to have double-doubles in the game. Daniels added 16 points and 10 boards, while Devin Buckley had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Macura led Lakeville North with 26 points, hitting five shots from beyond the three-point arc. Connor Flack added 17 and Zach Creighton had 12 for the Panthers, whose season ended with a 23-7 record.
Park Center, now 27-3 on the year, will take on the winner of Edina and Andover in the second semifinal Thursday at the Target Center. Approximate tip is at 8pm.