Perham runs away with 8AA South Sub-Section title
After missing the 8AA sub-section semifinal with a bout of pneumonia, Perham guard Jordan Bruhn returned with a Herculean effort to lead the #6 ranked Perham Yellowjackets to a 64-48 sub-section final victory over #4 ranked Pequot Lakes in Park Rapids.
Bruhn scored 20 points, but more importantly, ran the Perham offense and controlled the ball making the Patriot's full-court pressure a non-factor in the game.
"He's a gamer," said Perham Head Coach Dave Cresap.
Bruhn would have no talking about his condition or any accolades about his play. As far as he is concerned, the Yellowjackets are playing for one big reason.
"We did it for Zach," Bruhn said. "Whenever you think you can't do it, think of Zach."
Zach Gabbard has been missing from the team since he collapsed on the court in Glyndon January 21.
Perham center Mark Schumacher saw little playing time and scored no points for the first time this season after getting into foul trouble early in both halves.
"They're resilient types of kids," Cresap said. "They've had to persevere through many obstacles but we never use that as an excuse."
Schumacher had the unpleasant duty of guarding senior center Tomas Parker. Schumacher held his own recording five blocks in the first half before retiring to the bench.
Which brought junior forward Sam Stratton into the game. Stratton, averaging seven points per game, played out of his mind, scoring 18 points and dominated where Parker was supposed to rule, in the paint.
Stratton had similar words to Bruhn about his own effort.
"Win for Zach; that was the main goal," he said. "Zach is going to be down there at state. We just have to keep on winning."
Parker and Pequot Lakes sharpshooter, Kurtis Moody, both missed the earlier match-up this year, in which Perham defeated the Patriots 64-60.
The return of Parker, who is a large presence, was supposed to give the Patriots a big advantage going into the rematch.
"We're not going to stop him," Cresap said. "He's going to get his."
Moody scored 22 and Parker had 18, but the Patriots only got eight points from the rest of the squad.
Perham's depth, speed and transition game blew the Patriots away in the second half.
But the entire framework of the game may have turned differently had it not been for Bruhn.
Trailing 24-22 in the waning seconds of the first half of a dead even ball game, Bruhn grabbed a loose ball and hit a fade-away three-pointer at the halftime buzzer, electrifying the Yellowjacket faithful and sending Perham into the locker room up one, 25-24, with all the momentum.
The second half started with nearly three minutes of scoreless play before Bruhn broke the drought with another three-ball.
Perham went on a 10-0 scoring run to a 40-29 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Pequot Lakes crept back within nine points on two free throws by Parker, but the Yellowjackets pulled away stretching to as much as a 19-point advantage 61-42.
"We had to control the tempo," Patriots' Head Coach Garry Grewe said. "If they got off for nine, 10 threes, we're in trouble."
The Yellowjackets made seven in the game.
Nick Tobkin scored eight points. Jordan Cresap, Jordan Hein and Mike Wiskow had six points, all at important parts of the game.
Both teams got big numbers from two players, Pequot Lakes from their stars and Perham from a less than 100 percent Bruhn and Stratton off the bench.
Scoring from the remainder of Perham's lineup is what made this game a mismatch, when on paper and up until halftime, it had all the makings of a nail biter.
Perham advances to the 8AA Section final to be played at Concordia College-Moorhead, Friday, May 18, at 6:30 p.m.
Perham (27-1) will take on the Thief River Falls Prowlers (21-7), who upset the Bagley Flyers 69-50 in the north half of the section draw at Crookston.
Perham's 27th victory extends their school record for wins in a season and they are one more victory away from a trip to the state tournament and a reunion with Zach Gabbard.
A victory over Thief River Falls will match Perham up with the winner of Section 7. Four teams remain in Section 7. The sub-section finals will be played Thursday, Mar. 17.
International Falls (24-4) takes on Moose Lake-Willow River (26-2) and Braham (25-3) plays Virginia (24-4).
Half: Per 25, Peq 24
Perham: Bruhn 20, Stratton 18, Tobkin 8, Cresap 6, Hein 6, Wiskow 6.
Pequot: Moody 22, Parker 18, Anderson 3, Lange 3, Greer 2.
Correction: In the original print of this story, Kurtis Moody was noted as missing the first game between Perham and Pequot Lakes. He did play in the first game scoring 23 points.