Park Center Senior High is home to numerous competitive teams across multiple sports disciplines, often qualifying for state tournaments in various areas.
Casimir Chavis and CJ O’Hara played critical roles in helping the Pirates battle back from an 18-point deficit and win dramatically to advance to the Class AAAA semifinals.
Park Center boys basketball program boasts both talent and experience this season, which shows on the court as evidenced in Tuesday’s Section 5AAAA semifinal against Mounds View Mustangs, where CJ O’Hara led with 24 points while JJ Ware added 17. On Friday night, they will face Osseo for the title game.
Park Center’s balance and depth make them Minnesota’s premier team, according to the Metro Top 10 poll. That was evident Thursday against Totino-Grace when multiple players contributed in helping the unbeaten Pirates pull away from No. 3 Vikings to claim a 68-65 Northwest Suburban game victory at Lakeville North. Raoul Vaidya and Henry Stang handled pressure from No. 3 effectively, with center Lincoln Palbicki also contributing significantly in securing victory.
Park Center coach James Ware knew his team would be put through rigorous physical and mental challenges during the playoffs, yet Park Center managed to emerge victorious in a Class 4A state semifinal at Target Center against Eastview 61-56 despite both teams favoring driving to the basket; therefore physicality played a pivotal role.
Park Center had one final chance to secure victory as the last seconds ticked away when, with 9 seconds remaining, Jackson Fowlkes of Crimson missed his front-end shot, prompting Park Center coaches to call timeout and put Jackson Fowlkes under ice and devise a play.
Park Center Senior High, situated near the border between two northwest Twin Cities suburbs and boasting its mascot as a pirate, has long been one of the most vital performing schools. Their Pirates have qualified for state tournaments across many sports and activities such as competitive cheer, marching band, robotics, fall play, speech, Destination Imagination Model United competitions as well as speech tournaments over time – including in 2021-22 when their Competitive Cheer squad won state champion and came second nationally! Additionally, Park Center’s boys Varsity Basketball team remains competitive throughout their season – consistently being one of their strongest contenders against local competition in recent years!
Park Center Senior High School (PCSH) is situated near the border of two northwest Twin Cities suburbs – Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center – just northeast of Minneapolis. It features the school mascot as a pirate, with its sports teams known as “The Pirates.” Students come from both neighborhoods; this school belongs to Northwest Suburban Conference as part of which its athletes and teams have competed at several MSHSL state tournaments, including:
After an inauspicious start to their season, the boy’s team went on a winning streak that saw them secure District 7 glory and capture Izzy Brant, Ari Gordon, and Kennedy Klick, all scoring 15 points each for Crimson, while Adalia McKenzie led Pirates with 19.
The girls’ team has also been impressive this year. They won District 7 and currently tie with Vikings for second in Class 4A standings, winning 14 out of 15 games overall and a unique 25-0 mark against local rivals. Abby Schulte leads all New South Conference scorers at 16 points per game, which contributes significantly to the Pirate’s success.
2022 was the year the boys finally broke through and secured a piece of the Class AAAA state championship, defeating Wayzata 58-53 for their inaugural state crown ever in school history. Cody Pennebaker led all scorers with 23 points.
After falling behind early, the Pirates quickly caught up to take a seven-point lead at halftime, with Ayouba Berthe contributing 11 points as Ayouba Berthe helped them take control. Although the Trojans attempted a comeback in the second half, their attempts only managed to come within striking distance – junior guard Hayden Tibbits even hit a three-pointer to cut down their deficit to two before finally sealing victory at the free throw line.
James Ware wanted his Pirates players to face precisely this type of challenge in practice by having them play against physically strong opponents, which gave them just what they needed against Eastview’s long, athletic lineup.
James Ware spent much of his childhood playing basketball at Hopkins before receiving a full scholarship to Texas Tech, playing under some incredible role models and inspiring him to pursue a college coaching career for several years before transitioning back into high school basketball coaching, where he feels most at home working with children – which led him to Park Center where he currently holds the head coach role and doing what he loves!
Park Center is having a remarkable state tournament run this winter. Their unbeaten Pirates will face off in Saturday’s Class 4A final against either Lakeville North or Wayzata – an impressive feat, considering they weren’t even participating five years ago! Even more remarkable has been Ware’s effect on his students.
Ware has had a hectic winter as both Pirates head coach and assistant principal. He sees parallels between those roles when it comes to consistency and building relationships with his students.
Ware witnessed his team come back from an early deficit to beat Eastview Lightning on Thursday’s Class 4A semifinal in an entertaining and athletic battle that showcased both teams’ defensive tenacity and athleticism, but ultimately, it was his team’s pressure defense that got under their skin resulting in a late game surge and eventual 61-56 win for them.
Andrew has over two decades of coaching basketball experience in the Twin Cities area at various levels and ages from 2nd grade through high school. He’s held positions with both Minnesota Suns varsity teams and AAU programs – most recently working as a skills trainer. Andrew has a deep love for this game and believes AAU basketball provides more than skill development; rather it fosters character, confidence, and leadership development in players.
Park Center Competitive Basketball offers high school athletes who wish to compete at a higher level a fun environment to do so. As a non-profit and volunteer-run organization, this league strives to give athletes opportunities to participate in competitive basketball play. Tryouts take place over two nights with players evaluated based on various skills each night – all tryouts must take place, as missing one could make a significant difference to the team they end up on.
The 2022 Park Center boys’ team ended their season as state champions, yet they weren’t done being recognized just yet. One player on their squad was honored with Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball Award based on overall performance and sportsmanship throughout the season – Braeden Carrington from Park Center Pirates fulfilled this criteria perfectly.
Carrington led his team with relentless effort and energy on the court, which drove their success. His leadership, encouragement, and presence energized teammates through both wins and losses alike; his legacy will surely live on at Park Center next season. Other local players were honored with All-Metro honorable mention awards, such as Hayden Tibbits from Wayzata, Cash Chavis from Park Center, Patrick Bath from Totino-Grace as well as Benilde-St Margaret’s sophomore Jayden Moore.