Defense, late spark gives Ashby 45-40 win over Parkers Prairie

Parkers Prairie led for most of the game Thursday against Ashby, but a late run proved to be enough for Ashby to improve to 9-1.

Ashby senior Torin Olson drives to the hoop in a game on Jan. 13, 2022 against Parkers Prairie. Olson finished with 11 points in a 45-40 for Ashby. Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

PARKERS PRAIRIE – The Ashby Arrows boys basketball team trailed for the majority of Thursday’s contest against the Parkers Prairie Panthers. But its defense kept the team in the game and after some big shots down the stretch, Ashby led 43-40 with 13 seconds left, after having trailed 37-31 with four and a half minutes left.

Parkers Prairie head coach Drew Johnson called timeout to design a play to get an open three to tie the game and force overtime.

“The main part was to try to get Cole [Koep] open in the corner for a three,” Johnson said. “He was shooting pretty good all night and he’s been shooting good all year. The second option was to swing the ball back across, have a double screen for him to run back across to the other corner and knock it down and hopefully force overtime.”

But Ashby had other plans. Parkers Prairie committed a turnover, which Ashby turned into a fast break opportunity and lay-in for senior forward Jacob Cook, which gave Ashby the 45-40 win.

“I thought we played with some grit down the stretch,” Ashby head coach John Holsten said. “We were active with our feet and our hands, which is what we needed to be.”


The Arrows have held eight of their 10 opponents this season to less than 50 points and are 7-0 when they do so.

With a six-point deficit at the 4:30 mark of the second half, Ashby knocked down some killer threes.

Senior guards Torin Olson and Carter Spangler hit big three pointers down the stretch for Ashby. Spangler made his first bucket of the night on a three-point shot from the wing to put Ashby ahead 39-38 with 2:30 remaining.

“Carter air balled his previous one (three-point attempt) but knocked the next one down; good for him,” Holsten said. “It's a shot-maker’s game, we made a couple of big shots in that stretch.”

Spangler’s three put Ashby ahead for just the second time in the half, as Ashby had led 31-30 before Parkers Prairie earlier in the half.

Defense and making free throws put Ashby (9-1, 4-0 Section 6A South) in the win column from there.

Right from the start, the Ashby defense needed to deliver and it did.

The Panthers shut down the Arrows' offense in the first four and a half minutes, holding the Arrows to zero points.


The Arrows got the offense going a bit near the midway point of the first half, and tied the game at 10, but the momentum couldn’t be sustained.

Parkers Prairie had the largest lead at 11 late in the first half. Ashby scored the final seven points of the half to cut its deficit to four at halftime (22-18).

Ashby outscored Parkers Prairie 27-18 in the second half.

Cook led the Arrows with 21 points despite being the prime target of the Panthers defense.

“I looked at their (Ashby’s) film and I knew they had some good players and we just had to evaluate what we were going to do defensively,” Johnson said. “We practiced a box and one, we practiced a triangle for most of the weekend to stop Cook and Olson…I’m pretty proud of these guys and how they came home and adjusted to three days of practice and running this defensive setup.”

Cook scored nine points in the first half and Olson had four.

“We made a bad coaching error, we weren’t ready for it,” Holsten said. “It took us a while to get some stuff going. I don’t know if we ever did figure it out.”

Cook finished with 21 points, while Olson scored 11.


The 45 points is the lowest scoring total Ashby has had all season and the second-fewest a Parkers Prairie opponent has scored all season (18 by Sebeka on Dec. 2 is the fewest a Parkers Prairie opponent has scored this season).

“There’s nothing to hang our heads on after this game, we just played with probably one of the best contenders in our section,” Johnson said. “I hope the boys can go back, analyze this and realize we're hanging with these tough teams, a couple things here and there and we’re flipping the score and taking the win.”

The Panthers winning percentage sits at .500 (5-5, 2-4 Section 6A South), but it's so close to being better.

Parkers Prairie junior guard Mason Arens attempts to get around Ashby junior guard Brodie Ecker in a game on Jan. 13, 2022. Arens had 14 points but Ashby won 45-40. Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Four of their five losses have come by six points or less, including a triple overtime loss to the Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Jan. 6.

“We’ve just got to bear down, realize situations and play our game,” Johnson said. “I know these guys are capable of doing that. We just had a few mishaps and that’s how the games turn out.”

Junior guard Mason Arens led the Panthers in scoring with 14, while Koep added 11.

Parkers Prairie returns home for a showdown with fellow Section 6A foe, Brandon-Evansville (5-5, 1-2 Section 6A) at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Ashby had a game with Battle Lake on Friday scheduled, but that has been postponed according to the Little Eight Conference calendar.

Ashby 45, Parkers Prairie 40

WCA SCORING - Jacob Cook -21 points; Torin Olson - 11 points; Hunter Norby - 4 points; Carter Sprangler - 3 points; Carson Sprangler - 3 points; Brodie Ecker- 3 points

PARKERS PRAIRIE - Mason Arnes 14 points; Coel Koep - 11 points; Ben Harrington - 5 points; Carter Thoeness - 5 points; Jake Wagner - 3 points; Blake Guenther - 2 points

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