It was a playoff-like atmosphere Friday night at Prairie Wind Gymnasium. Backed by a crowd that was bigger, and louder than the hometown fans, the No. 9-A New York Mills girls rallied for a 68-67 win over Perham.
"I told the girls to treat this game like it was the playoffs," New York Mills head coach Dave Paavola said. "Perham has a very good team and I knew it would take a playoff-like performace for us to pull out a win."
The Lady Eagles took an early five-point lead in the first half, but Perham went on a 14-2 run to open a 17-10 lead.
The Jackets were still up by sevem, 26-19, when Mills went on a run of their own. A pair of baskets by Hannah Rutten, followed by a 3-point play from Kendra McCall tied the game, 28-28, with four minutes left in the half.
After the two teams traded baskets, a pair of hoops by Sam Welter put Mills on top, 35-32. Elisa Moenkedick ended the half with a basket for Perham, makingthe halftime score, 35-34.
The Jackets came out of halftime with some fire, then they quickly opened a five-point lead, 45-40.
But after a pair of 3-pointers by Welter and Alicia Boe, Mills put Mills back on top, 54-52.
But at the 9:13 mark in the game, Rutten picked up her fourth foul, and headed for the bench.
Instead of folding with their leader off the floor, Mills held strong. When the senior post reentered the game with 5:44 left to play, the Eagles were still haead, 59-56.
That didn't mean Mills had the game won. A pair of hoops from Katrina Moenkedick with a lay-up from Becky Stoll put Perham back on top, 64-61, with 3:05 to play.
Neither team backed down as the clock ticked away. Rutten cut the lead to one, only to have Moenkedick come back with a basket of her own to get the lead back to tthree points. Boe answered for Mills, cutting the lead back to one, 66-65.
With 1:56 left, Perham's Kaylan Huber got to the free throw line, but made just one of her two shots. Forty seconds later, Boe was at the line for Mills, where she made both of her shots to tie the game, 67-67.
Perham was back at the line with 25 seconds remaining, but the first shot in a one-and-one attempt rimmed out. Mills pulled down the rebound, and eventually Rutten was fouled and sent to the line with 11 seconds.
There, Rutten missed the first, but made her second free throw, givin the Eagles a 68-67 lead. Perham quickly pushed the ball down the court for a potential game-winner, but Mills' Betsy Helmeke stopped the penetration of Moenkedick, and forced a jump ball. The possession arrow went to Mills.
The Eagles did get another shot at the line, but after missing, Perham wasn't able to get off a quality game winning shot as time expired.
"It's a very big win for us," said Mills senior Hannah Rutten. "We haven't beaten Perham in, like forever. They are by far the toughest team on our schedule. So it's very big for us."
The Jackets had won five in a row over Mills. The Eagles last win in the series was a 44-40 overtime victory in December, 2003.
"That (game winning free throw) was way cooler than last night," Rutten said. In Mills' previous game on Thursday night, Rutten passed the 2,000 point mark for her career. She now has 2,034 for her career.
"Our last couple of games with them were so close," Paavola said. "Towards the end of the game, I was thinking 'Here we go again'. But our girls did a nice job getting the defensive stops when we needed them."
Perham beat NY Mills last season, 54-50. The year before, the Jackets came out on top, 34-31.
Rutten finished with 29 points and 18 rebounds. Both were game highs. Boe was also in double figures with 17.
Elisa Moenkedick led the Jackets with 24 points and seven boards. Katrina Moenkedick and Jessica Speicher each finished with 12.
Friday, February 12
New York Mills 68, Perham 61
NY Mills 35-33--68
Eagles--Hannah Rutten 29, Alicia Boe 17, Sam Welter 9, Kendra McCall 7, Betsy Helmeke 3, Brittnie Menze 3.
Jackets--Elisa Moenkedick 24, Katrina Moenkedick 12, Jessica Speicher 12, Becky Stoll 8, Kaylan Huber 7, Kelli Meehl 4.
2-pointers--P 22/51, NYM 23/52; 3-pointers--P 4/13, NYM 4/14; Free Throws--P 7/14, NYM 10/16; Rebounds--P 23 (E. Moenkedick 7), NYM 37 (Rutten 18); Assists--P 26 (Miller 11), NYM 20 (McCall 4); Steals--P 11 (K. Moenkedick, E. Moenkedick 4), NYM 9; Turnovers--P 12, NYM 17; Team Fouls--P 16, NYM 17.