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Mark Schumacher, 00, and Sam Stratton, 32, each had two blocks in the first half of a defensive affair at Target Center. Photo by Bob Williams

Perham advances to state AA final in double overtime

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MINNEAPOLIS - With junior floor leader Jordan Bruhn out of the game after committing his fifth foul in the first overtime, it was up to senior Nick Tobkin to lead the Perham Yellowjackets to the AA state championship game.

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"We were behind, and we thought, 'we gotta keep our composure,'" Tobkin said. "We kept giving it our best."

With the help of Sam Stratton, Tobkin and the Yellowjackets took command of a game they trailed in for the most part, but in the end prevailed 45-41 in double overtime over the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Buccaneers.

"This win means everything to this community," Head Coach Dave Cresap said. "You could tell by the crowd that the whole town was here, and there will probably be even more of them tomorrow."

Getting to overtime alone was quite the feat.

Perham trailed for 17 of the 18 minutes of the second half, but a late bucket from Mark Schumacher on a running feed from Bruhn tied the game at 32 with 51 seconds remaining.

Buccaneer Tate Harmon drove the baseline for the win, but overshot a running three-footer sending the game to the first overtime.

Perham erased a six-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation. W-E-M's six-point lead was the largest of the game.

Charging calls directed momentum in the final minutes and in both overtimes. Both teams erased buckets taking the brunt of driving shooters.

Bruhn was the first player to exit the game in overtime after recording his fifth foul on a drive into the waiting block of Pope.

Defense was the name of the game.

"We usually don't see defense like we saw tonight," Head Coach Dave Cresap said. "It was the best we've seen all year; the pressure was the best."

The game mirrored the first AA semifinal, which went four overtimes.

With 2:29 left in the second overtime, a Perham timeout saved Buccaneers' leading scorer Conrad Masberg from his fifth foul. The timeout was called in the same second as Masberg's fifth infraction.

Masberg led all scorers with 17 points.

Less than a minute later, Stratton sent Masberg to the bench after Masberg slipped in front of Stratton looking for another charging call.

Stratton and Tobkin together controlled the final overtime period.

A Tobkin jumper gave Perham their first lead since the first half 38-36.

Both Stratton and Tobkin got to the free throw line to extend and match the game's biggest lead, six points, at 45-39 with under a minute remaining in the second OT.

From there, it was a manner of counting down the seconds to the final game of the year and setting up the ultimate stage to play out the finale to Perham's dream season.

"It's a surreal feeling to be playing in the championship game," Tobkin said.

Turnovers were the name of the game early and scoring was at a premium in the first half.

The Buccaneers lead the Yellowjackets 15-11 at the break, due mainly, to 13 Yellowjacket turnovers. The Bucs gave the ball up only five times.

The Yellowjackets got off to a slow start while the Buccaneers got on the board early thanks to a three-point play the hard way. Conrad Masberg sank a runner and drew a foul from Jordan Bruhn. He made his free throw; followed by Tate Harmon scoring from 12-feet to put the Yellowjackets in a position their opponents normally are, down 5-0 early.

Schumacher swatted Masberg's next attempt away and ran the floor in transition, out of a timeout, to get Perham on the board with 14:36 remaining; they trailed 5-2.

Schumacher sunk two free throws and had two more blocks leading to Jordan Cresap tying the game at seven with his first three pointer of the game.

Cresap had five threes in Perham's quarterfinal victory over Virginia.

Schumacher tied the score at nine with nine minutes to go from behind the backboard. From there, points were at a premium for the remainder of the half.

Only three players on each team scored in the first 18 minutes. For Perham, Schumacher had six; Cresap had three and Stratton had two. Masberg, Grant Pope and Harmon all had five points for the Buccaneers.

Eleven points is the lowest halftime total for Perham this season.

"I am so excited right now," Schumacher said. "It was a bad showing in the first half, but we came out and gave it a team effort. We went into halftime thinking that we could win this game."

Schumacher picked up his second foul with 8:11 to go stuffing Harmon on what appeared like all-ball and was replaced by Mike Wiskow.

Sam Stratton gave Perham its first lead 11-10 with 7:27 remaining in the first half.

Masberg scored down low giving the Bucs the lead at 12-11 with 4:22 remaining and Pope got the last points of the first half from three at 2:37. The remainder of the half was scoreless.

Game notes: Zach Gabbard found a new way to motivate the Yellowjackets getting out of his wheelchair and walking down the line of his teammates during pre-game introductions.

As a team, the Yellowjackets blocked nine shots: Stratton-4, Schumacher-3, Bruhn and Hein each had one. W-E-M blocked zero Yellowjacket shots.

The AA state championship game will feature Perham versus Rochester Lourdes at 2 p.m., inside Target Center, tomorrow, Saturday, March 26.

Scoring:

PER: 11-21-4-9--45

WEM: 15-17-4-5--41

Perham: Tobkin 14, Schumacher 10, Stratton 6, Cresap 5, Bruhn 4, Wiskow 4, Hein 2.

W-E-M: Masberg 17, Harmon 14, Pope 5, Gregor 4, Erdman 1.

Team stats:

Rebounds: PER: 36, W-E-M: 33.

FG%: PER: 34.9 percent, W-E-M: 25.5 percent.

FT%: PER: 72.2 percent, W-E-M: 76.5 percent.

Points off turnovers: PER: 14, W-E-M: 16.

Points in paint: PER: 20, W-E-M: 14.

Second chance points: PER: 4, W-E-M: 7.

Fast break points: PER: 6, W-E-M: 0.

Bench points: PER: 6, W-E-M: 0.

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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