Hawley ends Jackets' run
BY TED FISKEVOLD
The No. 3 seeded Perham Yellowjackets lost a tough back-and-forth tournament game to No. 2 Hawley 56-49 in Section 8-2A South Subsection quarterfinal action Saturday night.
This up-and-down nail-biter of a game was played in the "Nugget Nation" on Hawley's home turf where the Jackets had handed the Nuggets a 56-52 defeat last December in regular season play, only to have the Nuggets beat the Jackets 51-48 in Perham's front yard in February.
Hawley went into Saturday's game with a 20-5 win-loss record while Perham went into the game at 20-6. "It's going to be a tough match-up," said Perham Head Coach Dave Cresap in a conversation before the game began. "The Nuggets have really good athletes and we'll have to perform as well as we possibly can to win this game tonight."
True to Coach Cresap's prediction, the Jackets were at the top of their game in enough of the first half of the match to come out of that half ten points ahead. But it wasn't easy.
The Nuggets got the jump on the Jackets shortly after the opening whistle and went on an eight-point run that had the Nugget Nation going wild and many saddened hearts in Perham.
Trailing 8-0, the Yellowjackets stung back with an 11-point run that put the score at 11-8.
Hawley took the lead one more time at 13-12, but the Nuggets did not see daylight again in the first half, which ended at 35-25.
The score had been 27-23 with 3:38 remaining.
Nick Tobkin was high scorer for the Jackets after the first half with 12 points followed by Zach Babbard with 11 and Ben Bucholz with nine.
It is important to note, the Jackets made 3-4 free throws in the first half, while the Nuggets were at the line six times and made five free throws.
Cresap was obviously not happy with some of the calls made by referees and he was backed by some vocal groaning that came from the Perham fans in the audience.
The Jackets continued their run and scored five more points in the first two minutes of the second half making the score 40-25.
The 15-point lead was short-lived as the Nuggets took off on a 12-point run narrowing the lead to 40-37 within a minute and a half of play.
The hard-played athletes of both teams could not keep up the intensity, yet Perham was still ahead 47-46 with three minutes remaining in the game.
A three-point bucket by Hawley's Jon Spaeth dashed Perham's hopes and put Hawley in the lead by 49-47 with about two minutes remaining in the match.
A flurry of fouls charged on the Jackets and a flurry of free throws made by Hawley in the waning minutes of action added gravy to the Nuggets' victory meal and resulted in a fifth foul for Yellowjackets' senior guard Jordan Bruhn.
Fouled out of the game, Bruhn was forced to the bench and replaced by sophomore Jordan Cresap.
Cresap was charged with two fouls himself within 30 seconds.
The Nuggets scored 14 points out of 19 attempts at the free throw line in the second half, while the Jackets never made it to the free throw line once during the last half of the game.
This huge discrepancy left Dave Cresap shaking his head and protesting from the sidelines several more times, while the Perham players, fans and assistant coaches showed many signs of frustration time and again.
During the entire game, the Nuggets made 19-25 free throws, while the Jackets made 3-4.
Making ten three-pointers helped keep the Jackets in the game.
High scorer for the Yellowjackets was Tobkin with 17 points, including five three-pointers, four of which he made in the first half.
"We played extremely hard but we lost our poise in the second half," Coach Cresap said. "We didn't execute well in the second half, and yes, we didn't get many [foul] calls when our kids took it to the basket. I mean, Sam Stratton gets knocked down trying to make a shot and there was no call.
"But I'm not taking this loss out on any referees. Our boys had a great first half and we couldn't keep it going for the second half. I coached a great bunch of boys this year and a 20-7 season is a great year."
Sub-Section 8-2A playoffs: (3) Perham at (2) Hawley, Saturday, March 13.
Yellowjackets 35 14 - 49
Nuggets 25 32 - 57
Game scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts) -- Perh: Zach Gabbard 1-3-0-0-11; Be Bucholz 3-1-0-0-9; Nick Tobkin 1-5-0-0-17; Sam Stratton 3-0-1-2-7; Jordan Bruhn 0-1-2-2-5. Team: 8-10-3-4-49.
Hawley: Mike Hanson 0-2-1-2-7; Brett Severson 0-0-2-2-2; Jacob Bjornson 0-4-6-6-18; Taylor Harms 3-0-8-10-14; Luke Van Havermaet 1-0-0-1-2; Kevin Olson 6-0-2-4-14. Team: 10-6-19-25-57.