Park Center is primed to defend its state championship.
The No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Pirates used their size advantage to run roughshod over Andover in a 92-72 victory Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament at Target Center. Park Center (27-2) also beat the No. 7 Huskies in the opening round a year ago en route to its initial state championship.
"We shot the ball so poorly from the perimeter last year that we wanted to get the ball inside," Park Center coach James Ware said. "We also wanted to hit the offensive boards. That was big for us early on."
The Pirates' 2-inch height advantage per starter showed from the outset. They scored 11 of the first 14 points and had 34 points in the paint while building a 50-32 halftime lead. Andover didn't get closer than 10 points after halftime.
Park Center's balance was also a problem for the Huskies. Six players scored in double figures for the Pirates, led by junior guard Cash Chavis with 18. Those six players, each of whom had at least a dozen points, wound up 35-for-56 from the floor. Chavis also handed out 11 assists.
"A lot of our balance is dictated by Cash," Ware said. "If you cut, he will find you. If you are open, he will get you the ball. He is a willing passer."
Guard Ben Kopetzki did his best to keep Andover (22-8) in the game in the first half, scoring 13 of his game-high 22 points. Guard Sam Musungu finished with 17 points after being limited to four in the first half.
"I think we were a little scared and it led to us getting behind early," Kopetzki said.
The Huskies lost 97-91 to Park Center during the regular season.