Section 8AA final match-up, Yellowjackets versus Prowlers
Perham (27-1) will see a similar foe in the Thief River Falls Prowlers (21-7) Friday night, at 6:30 p.m., inside Memorial Auditorium on the campus of Concordia College.
The teams will battle for the Section 8AA title and a trip to the state tournament.
The Prowlers mirror the Yellowjackets in playing a stingy defense and on offense will look to get the ball inside to senior center Jonathan Milks.
Earlier in the season, the main duty of guarding the paint was that of Perham center Mark Schumacher.
With the explosion of Sam Stafford and his inspired play against Pequot Lakes, Schumacher is in good company.
The Yellowjackets should match up well with the Prowler front line.
Junior forward Jaylon Gunderson will play a big role down low for the Prowlers.
The Gunderson/Milks match-up with Stratton and Schumacher will be something to watch.
Like many games, it should come down to who controls the tempo and owns the boards.
Even at a height disadvantage against Pequot Lakes, the Yellowjackets won the rebounding battle 18-15.
From the outside, Thief River Falls will look to Phillip Onkka, Karter Trontvet, Jacob Beito, and Ralph Williams. The Prowlers have eight or nine guys who can score.
On the Yellowjacket side, anyone Head Coach Dave Cresap puts in the game can score at will and take over a game.
Jordan Bruhn blew up against Pequot Lakes. Jordan Cresap and Nick Tobkin can be lethal from the outside.
Mike Wiskow finds ways to get to the hoop.
Jordan Hein plays a mean sixth-man role and proved in the playoff game versus Hawley he can step into a starting role and lead the team.
Jordan Anderson has played significant minutes when called upon.
Points can come from anywhere on the court for the Yellowjackets and will keep the Prowlers' defense at the ready.
As Pequot Lakes and Hawley found out, there is also a large intangible to compete with when playing Perham and that is the inner drive in pursuit of a meeting with Zach Gabbard in the Twin Cities.
The Yellowjackets are seeking their first ever trip to the state tournament and Gabbard is down there awaiting their arrival.
Pequot Lakes saw this drive in the second half of last Tuesday's game.
The team spirit centered on the reunion with Gabbard could be seen in the arc of Jordan Bruhn's three-pointer at the halftime buzzer that put Perham up 25-24 at the break.
Courtside, I was within feet of Bruhn's heave and as it left his hand there was no doubt it was going in.
Bruhn's shot was a dagger in the heart of the Patriots and it touched nothing but net.
All the momentum of a seesaw battle went with Bruhn and the Yellowjackets to the Perham locker room as he sprinted off the court at the half.
The noise of the throng of Yellowjacket fans blew the Patriot crowd into a stunned silence.
Since Gabbard's collapse, Perham's traveling crowd has grown with each game and they certainly play a role in aiding the Jackets.
Four minutes into the Patriots/Jackets second half at Park Rapids the game was comfortably in Jacket hands.
A repeat performance like that and a trip to the state tournament will cement an incredible winter season run for Yellowjacket athletics.
The gymnastics team continued their dynastic run. The wrestling team had a solid state effort from four individuals and this basketball team has the opportunity to place themselves in the annals of Perham athletic history.
Destiny and fate ride on the shoulders of the Yellowjackets and for a team that has won 27 times and lost only once, they are four wins away from becoming the sports story of the year in the state of Minnesota.
Points per game:
Per: Won 15
TRF: Won 4
Last 10 games:
Per: No. 2
TRF: No. 8
Per: No. 6
**The Quality Results Formula (QRF) was created to try and rank teams from different parts of the state. Each game is given an individual QRF (iQRF) based four things (listed in order of importance)
Win or Loss; Opponent wins; Class differential between the teams; Margin of victory (or defeat) with a cap on both ends.
QRF rankings and statistics courtesy Minnesota-Scores.net.