The class of 1991 at Park Center High School was the top ranked team in the state, finishing with a 24-1 record. Apparently those players wanted to see if the current team was up to their expectations.
The idea of a reunion spread through social media and most of the team and other Park Center Pirate alumni were on deck (sorry) for the matchup with Maple Grove. If you haven't seen a game at Park Center, put it on your list of venues to watch a game. Especially this year. Fans sit tight to the floor or stand on three elevated sides to watch the game.
The Crimson were on a 10-1 roll and looking to move up in the conference. The gym was almost full for what turned out to be a great game of basketball. The Crimson got off early jumping out to a 9-0 run. The problem was, Quinton Hooker had not touched the ball very much for the Pirates. It was 16-7 when Hooker got involved and the next thing you know, it was 17-14 after Captain Hook took took the ball to the hole. Several times during this game, he would rebound his own shot to score. He can get up in a hurry. The Crimson rode the back of Erik Olson as he was able to finish inside, scoring 8 of the first 21 points for the Crimson. The Pirates countered by scored 6 straight that included a three point shot that hit the front of the rim, bounced up and hit the top of the board and dropped in. The round ball has to go over the square board to be out of play. Jake Wieneke and Olson picked up their second fouls with 6 minutes to go in the first half. Matt Lindgren and Jake Sterling filled in on both ends of the floor, and the lead was never more than 2.
Halftime score 34-32, Pirates.
The second half was a pleasure to watch. Two teams making big shots and plays, and their fans providing support. This is what high school basketball was meant to be on a Friday night in January. Brycen Wojta, Grant Kaufman and Brandon Barta all hit bombs to counter Devin Buckley for PC. Buckley made 5 3s on the night including one from nearly the front row of the student section. Barta amped up his game another notch as he was able to get to loose balls and hit some big hoops down the stretch. Olson hit two throws to make the score 55-52, and Wieneke made a 3 to make it 59-57. Wojta, who finished with 12 assists handled the relentless Pirate pressure and dished for easy hoops. In a wild scramble off a miss by the Pirates, Barta came down on a 1 on 3 break and hit a cold blooded 3 to make it 64-62, and the Crimson faithful were sensing the Pirate ship might be listing to one side. With 4:39, Barta closed on another loose ball for the save and Wieneke hit another 3 and the Crimson led 65-64. But Captain Hook righted the ship with a layup and a steal off the ensuing inbounds pass. Big games come down to not only stretches of play, but also big possessions. Two turnovers on either side of a missed layup kept the Crimson playing from behind, but Maple Grove wasn't dead yet. After a Park Center time out, with 1:21 to go, and up by 3, they spread the floor and Josh Matthews took the ball to the hole. Olson got beat off the bounce, but was able to recover to make a sweet block and the Crimson had life. Another turnover gave the ball back to PC. After a FT, the Crimson got it back and Wojta hit two clutch throws to make it 71-69 with 25 seconds to go. After another time out, Hooker displayed another gear as he dribbled through 3 Crimson defenders on the press and the game was decided.
The final was 73-69, in an entertaining game that featured big players, making big plays.
The box score read Wieneke, Wojta and Olson with 14 points, and Kaufman had 12. The Crimson host Champlin Park on Tuesday.