MOORHEAD — Hunter Salathe was tonight’s benefactor in head coach Dave Cresap’s stellar game plan that took down the No. 2 team in the state, the Hawley Nuggets, by a very Perham-like final score of 67-55.
Perham held Hawley to their second lowest output of the season and ended the Nuggets’ year with a record of 25-2. Those two were big defeats at the hands of the Yellowjackets. Perham proved Hawley was vulnerable in January and Tuesday evening the Nuggets got out-coached and Perham executed to the nines, as they often do in the playoffs.
“Cresap had us working on some new plays and he watched so much tape on the 1-3-1’s and their full court press and he had us more than prepared and we executed and it worked really well,” Tyler Glines said.
“About 30-40 hours,” Cresap said. “I spent the last week trying to get a game plan ready and give us chances. The kids bought into it, believed in it and we executed very well.”
The Yellowjackets finished the game, both from the line and by keeping the Nuggets in a deficit the entire second half. After three early lead changes, Perham held the lead from the 3:00 mark of the first half.
“They kicked our butt at their place,” Hunter Salathe said. “They just owned us up and down the court. We just had to go out today and prove it.”
Salathe provided much of the punch in that proof and as the Perham offense has evolved this season, each night provides a chance for at least one player to get open looks at the basket and Salathe did a lot of work down low in traffic against Hawley’s imposing front line.
Perham led 22-19 at the break behind eight points from Salathe and six from Josh Nordick.
“We don’t need one guy to come out and score all the points,” Nordick said. “It was Hunter’s night and he was feelin’ it and getting to the rack. We just kept giving him the ball and he’d come up with big play after big play.”
Salathe led all scorers with 27 points. Nordick had his second big game in a row scoring 19 against the Nuggets.
“Our team has eight guys every night that can lead in scoring,” Hunter Salathe said. “We’re a team!”
“We believed we could do it. There weren’t many people that believed in us in the beginning, but we knew we could do it the whole way and it feels awesome,” said Glines.
“We just got to get ready for that next team, Crosby or Warroad, whoever it is,” said Salathe.
“We have to focus for Friday,” said Nordick. “We just have to take it one more game at a time and after Friday then we’ll be thinking about (state) when we come out with a victory, hopefully.”
Devon Pekas pulled Hawley to within three points 45-42 with 5:45 to play, but Perham went on a 22-13 run to close out the game while extending its lead to its largest as time wound down. Perham ran away from Hawley, who seemed out of synch all game and had some tough luck at the iron.
Perham spread their offense out with guards in the corners by the half-court line, point guard Glines in the middle at the top of the key and he distributed the ball to Hein and Salathe on the baseline to get inside Hawley’s zone and score from close range.
Hein had a number of highlight-reel assists in the game to set up easy baskets. A slick diagonal pass through a host of Nuggets found Salathe all alone under the hoop to start Perham’s push to the finish at 30-25.
“The big kids, Hein and Hunter, really finished well tonight,” said Cresap.
Three successive fast break layups by Hein, Nordick and a reverse layup by Salathe pushed Perham to a 36-27 lead and they commanded play the rest of the way inciting a raucous and good time student section.
Cresap’s plan of attack put the offense down low. Perham had only one three-point field goal, but got to the line 31 times to just 16 attempts for Hawley. Perham was 20-31 from the line. Hawley made 12 of 16.
Perham’s focus now shifts to Crosby-Ironton in the Section 8AA Section Final this coming Friday, March 15 back at Concordia College. Tip is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The Rangers defeated Warroad 57-36 to advance.
Perham and Crosby-Ironton met in Perham December 10 with the Yellowjackets pulling away quickly in a 65-44 victory. The Rangers were ranked No. 10 at the time. Perham, which has been unranked all season, is 5-2 against ranked 2A opponents this season.
The winner of the section final will advance to the state tournament beginning Wednesday, March 20, with games scheduled at Target Center and Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
“It’s hard not to think about it,” said Nordick. “That’s been our goal since day one. A lot of people have thought it’s a new team and we were not going to be able to do anything.”
The Yellowjackets defeated their biggest rivals, both ranked, in back-to-back games. They almost let a lead slip but hung on in the victory over Pelican Rapids. Tuesday, they dismantled and dominated Hawley. Those are huge wins for a program that continues to prove they have a winning formula both in the coaching staff and players.
Perham took the court Tuesday and imposed their will. Undersized, they got to loose balls and played the stingy defense that has made the Yellowjackets fixtures at the state tournament.
Perham is one game away from a third straight Section 8AA title and state tournament berth. They will go into that game as the favorites.
Perham 67, Hawley 55
PER: Hunter Salathe 27; Josh Nordick 19; Jordan Hein 8; Tyler Glines 7; Eli Beachy 6.
HAW: Devon Pekas 15; Ben Ellefson 15; Jacob Crompton 10; Jordan Harms 9; Dalton Leaf 6.
Click here for Forum's Chris Murphy's take on the game.
Check out pre-game interviews with both coaches and Dom Izzo of WDAY.
Talk about the gamef here at Minnesota-Scores.net.
View the Section 8AA bracket.