MOORHEAD — The Perham Yellowjackets trailed No. 8-2A Pelican Rapids to the midway point of the first half, grabbed a 14-12 lead and held off the Vikings to the final seconds in a 57-53 Section 8AA South Subsection semifinal victory at Memorial Auditiorium - Concordia College Saturday evening.
Senior Josh Nordick scored a team-high 21 points, 11 in the first half en route to a five-point advantage at the break 27-22.
Tucker Forsgren and Jordan Hein meet at center court during team introductions.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my teammates,” Nordick said. “They found me on every cut, it seemed like. I was open and they’d hit me underneath the hoop and I had a lot of easy buckets.”
Nordick was routinely open in the paint and hit two big three-point baskets, one to tie the game at 10 in the first half and to provide a cushion late in the game putting Perham up 41-36 in the second half.
“I thought Nordick was really zoned in and taking the ball to the basket,” Perham Head Coach Dave Cresap said. “We said, ‘If we can get inside that zone a little bit and get inside that man-to-man we’re going to get some easy ones.’ He was really the one that did.”
Josh Nordick found open space down low all game.
Pelican Rapids’ forward Tucker Forsgren, who played in a knee brace with a sprained MCL and slight tear, according to a team source, fouled out with 3:26 to go after scoring 10 points with six rebounds. Forsgren was called for three charges in a testy night with the officials.
The last time the two teams met, Nordick left the game and missed the following game with a concussion after taking a Forsgren elbow to the face.
Perham led 47-38, their largest lead of the game, after a basket by Nordick with three minutes to play.
“It’s nice to beat Pelican, my senior year, but we’ve got a lot of work to do for Tuesday against Hawley,” Nordick said.
Hawley, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, held off an upset-minded Barnesville club to advance. The Trojans led 15-10 in the first half and hung in the game down only 40-36 at halftime.
Devon Pekas and Ben Ellefson were too much in the second half breaking the game open and cruising to a 72-53 victory, their third over Barnesville this season. The duo combined for 47 points, 25 by Pekas.
Devon Pekas led Hawley in scoring in the Nuggets' victory over the Trojans.
Hawley led 42-38 with 12:49 to play and outscored the Trojans 30-15 down the stretch. Hawley improves to 25-1. Barnesville ends their season with a respectable record of 18-8.
Perham’s nine-point advantage never appeared safe and was threatened more after Tyler Glines, Jordan Hein, and Hunter Salathe all missed front ends of one-and-ones with Pelican Rapids forced to foul.
Ryan Bruggeman led a 10-3 surge late to pull the Vikings within a pair down 55-53. In the process, Bruggeman fouled out Perham’s Eli Beachy with just over a minute to go, before fouling out himself with a dozen ticks remaining.
Beachy and Bruggeman had their own battle for the third time this season. Bruggeman scored a game-high 23 points. Beachy scored nine points, two from behind the arc but did most of his work, per usual, on the defensive end.
Ryan Bruggeman led all scorers with 23 points.
Glines sealed the game for Perham by knocking down two free throws in the waning seconds as Forsgren and Bruggeman could only watch from the bench.
“Have to be honest, if we made free throws that game was over a long time ago,” Cresap said.
Perham had only two free throw attempts in the first half, both made by Salathe.
“We hadn’t been on the free throw line, at all,” said Cresap. “Then you miss your first couple. But we made the ones we had to. It was a great win for this group of guys.”
Pelican Rapids lost three of their final four games to end their season with a record of 19-9, with two of the nine losses to Perham.
While both Hawley and Pelican Rapids lived in the Class 2A polls this season, Perham has yet to see a ranking this season despite beating the Vikings twice and giving Hawley their only loss of the season.
“They only have one loss for a reason,” Nordick said. “We played really well that night and that’s what we’re going to have to do Tuesday. We’re going to have to play perfect basketball.”
The South Subsection final between Perham and Hawley will be played Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m., back at Concordia College.
Perham knocked off Hawley last season 55-38 in the Sub semis on the same floor. Memorial Auditorium has been kind to Perham the past two seasons, with Perham defeating Thief River Falls 55-44 in 2011’s section final to advance to the state tournament and ultimately the team’s state championship.
Perham has faced stiff competition in winning the past two Subsection finals defeating a 25-3 Pelican Rapids team 57-54 last year and a 21-7 Prowler team in 2011.
Hein and Salathe did some unheralded work on offense moving the ball in the middle around Pelican’s defense, while playing stout on defense despite being outsized down low.
“They do so many things people don’t see, the average guy, and as a coach they did a lot for us,” Cresap said. “That was just a great team effort and I’m happy with the win,” said Cresap. “Those kids deserve that.”
Hunter Salathe battled down low with Tucker Forsgren.
The Perham and Hawley matchup will be a test of defense. Pekas and Ellefson have led the Nuggets in scoring both games against Perham, including the last time the teams met, Perham’s worst loss of the season 68-50 at Hawley.
In the North Subsection, Warroad defeated Crookston 68-62. Top seed Crosby-Ironton got by Park Rapids 54-50. The Rangers and Warriors will meet at Bemidji State University Tuesday night. The winner will face the Hawley/Perham winner for the Section 8AA championship Saturday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at Concordia College.
Former state champions Zach Gabbard and Jordan Bruhn were in attendance to cheer on their former teammates.
Perham 57, Pelican Rapids 53
Beachy 3 1-2, 9, Salathe 3 5-7 11, Hein 3 0-1 6, Nordick 9 1-2 21, Glines 2 4-7 10.
Bruggeman 8 5-6 23, Schell 2 0-0 5, Haugen 6 0-2 13, Forsgren 4 2-2 10, Hensch 1 0-1 2.
Half: P 27, PR 22. 3-point goals: Bruggeman 2, Haugen 1, Schell 1, Beachy 2, Nordick 2, Glines 2.
Total fouls: P 13, PR 16. Rebounds: P 18 (Hein 8), PR 24 (Bruggeman 10). Turnovers: P 4, PR 11.
Hawley 72, Barnesville 53
Harms 4 0-0 9, Ellefson 7 6-6 22, Pekas 10 2-4 25, Crompton 4 0-2 8, Teeples 1 2-2 4, Stoa 1 0-1 2, Regnier 0 2-4 2.
A. Martz 7 2-5 17, B. Sauve 1 0-1 2, Strand 3 5-5 12, K. Martz 4 4-6 13, Holland 1 2-2 5, P. Sauve 1 0-0 2, Ishaug 0 2-4 2.
Half: H 28, B 22. 3-point goals: Strand 1, K. Martz 1, A. Martz 1, Holland 1, Harms 1, Pekas 3, Ellefson 2. Total fouls: H 22, B 15. Rebounds: H 30 (Stoa 6), B 20 (A. Martz 6, Ishaug 6). Turnovers: H 8, B 13.