Basketball: Jackets win opener at Crosby-Ironton (Updated Dec. 5)
The #2 (2A) Perham Yellowjackets started this year's basketball play where they left off at the end of last season -- winning.
Jordan Bruhn scored 23 points and Mark Schumacher yanked down 13 rebounds in a 54-32 victory.
"We knew it was going to be a slow-down affair because they play a lot of presses and zones," Head Coach Dave Cresap said. "They want to control the tempo of the game. After we settled in, I thought we did a pretty good job. We did enough things right and finished at the rim."
Bruhn made a living at the rim driving and penetrating the Rangers' zone making a number of circus shots to lead Perham to victory. He also dished out six assists, accounting for a portion of 35 of the team's 54 points.
The Rangers, behind a consistent full-court press, forced early turnovers from the Jackets jumping out to a 15-10 lead midway through the first half.
"Coach said we can't let them get set up in their zone so when I got the ball I just tried making plays as much as I can," said Bruhn.
After a timeout, Perham went on a 13-0 run to take a 29-20 advantage at the break. Bruhn had 15 of his game-high 23 points in the first half.
Perham slowly pulled away with the clock in the second half cruising through the final minutes ahead comfortably.
The win was the 20th in a row stretching back to the only loss of the season last year, in overtime, to Pelican Rapids. The Vikings are currently the only team ranked higher than Perham in 2A rankings.
The clubs will meet up for the first of two games Friday, Dec. 16, in Perham.
With this victory, the long road to a chance at repeating as state champions is underway, a road that is long and will possibly reach over 30 games.
"It's weird just knowing we have to go for it again," Bruhn said. "We know what it feels like to be there and we have to come into each night knowing we can get beat. We're just looking to the next (game)."
"(Bruhn) does a lot of things with the ball in his hands," said Cresap. "We can't rely on him doing too much all of the time. We've got guys who can really score and this zone caused us some trouble and he was able to get inside of that zone."
Mark Schumacher's scoring ability was not needed but his presence in the middle was. His control of the paint with a game-high 13 boards allowed Perham to control the middle. Schumacher also had four blocks. The defensive part of his game was crucial in a number of playoff victories last season.
Josh Nordick had nine points and proved to be a threat from three-point land, nailing important long balls.
Jordan Cresap scored seven and Jordan Anderson had five putting in big minutes in the backcourt with Bruhn. Jordan Cresap will surely get his share of points this season. He played in ball control in the first game, but he will get his looks and can penetrate.
"I thought all of our guys played hard," Coach Cresap said.
Mike Wiskow missed a portion of the second half when he was struck in the face by a Ranger defender. He left the court with what appeared to be a broken nose but returned to the game late in the second half in good health, other than a couple of stuffed nostrils.
The game also saw the return of Zach Gabbard, who made his first appearance on the floor since last January. Gabbard was happy to be back.
"It's great; I wish I was playing," he said. "My goal is to play after Christmas. There is maybe a 40 percent chance I'll be out there after Christmas break."
Gabbard was recently cleared to practice and participate in physical education classes at school. Doctor's will determine whether or not Gabbard will appear in any games this season. While he is still in recovery on a physical sense, his heart and mind are on the court, which is something he has had to adjust to, getting back into the flow of the game, even in practice.
"It's a lot different; I get tired so quick," Gabbard said. "I can't do some of it because I don't want to get hurt. They take it easy on me, kind of, and I get mad at them for that because I want to be treated like one of the guys."
Gabbard was the most vocal member of the bench and was a show of positive force that will aid the Yellowjackets, regardless of whether he is medically cleared to play or not in the near future.
Jordan Bruhn 23, Josh Nordick 9, Jordan Cresap 7, Jordan Anderson 5, Mark Schumacher 4, Mike Wiskow 4, Dan Cavanagh 2.
2's--19/37; 3's--4/12; FT's--4/12.
Rebounds--35--3 offensive (Schumacher 13); Assists--12 (Bruhn 6); Steals--8 (Bruhn 3); Blocks--5 (Schumacher 4); Turnovers--13.
Michael Hoge 8, Will Goodwin 8, Jacob Goodwin 8, Daniel Hudrick 6, Caleb Baker 2.
2's--6/34; 3's--4/14; FT's--8/12.
Rebounds--12--4 offensive; Assists--0; Steals--1; Blocks--0; Turnovers--5.