State Basketball: 'Two' be continued...
MINNEAPOLIS - For the first time in two years, the Perham boys basketball team can finally move beyond the number three.
After Wednesday's Minnesota State High School League Boys Basketball Tournament quarterfinal victory over the Worthington Trojans, the only number that matters for the Yellow Jackets now, is two.
Two games left in order to mark two state championships in a row.
The highs, lows and Perham's community support of last year's storybook championship which rallied around Zach Gabbard and his near fatal collapse on a Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton court are well documented. The season was dedicated to Gabbard. The entire Perham community wore number three shirts, Gabbard's number, and held three fingers in the air at every possible chance.
But the Yellow Jackets officially put all of that behind them as they victoriously walked off the Target Center floor Wednesday, Gabbard in uniform with them, marking the symbolic step forward.
"This was a very special win for a very, very special team," said Yellow Jackets head coach Dave Cresap. "These are very special kids."
However, the Yellow Jackets didn't have a particularly special first half offensively, shooting 9-22 from the field.
"We had plenty of shots, we just couldn't make them," said head Cresap said.
Worthington had a game-high five-point lead with 4:12 left in the half, when the Trojans dominant big man, Mitch Weg, scored his 15th point.
Perham responded with, not surprisingly, two unanswered buckets. The first was a break away layup by Jordan Bruhn, wearing number two of course, and the second, perhaps the biggest Yellow Jacket shot of the night, a Jordan Cresap three pointer that tied the score 22-22. A whistle blew shortly after on a Trojan penalty and the dedicated Perham crowd was the loudest it was all night.
The clock read 2:22.
Weg scored another basket with a minute left and the Yellow Jackets headed to the locker room at the half with a small deficit to overcome. You guessed it, two points.
During half time, Cresap offered a challenge to his squad. "Without saying too much about what I said, let's just say they responded overwhelmingly," Cresap said. "They made me a happy camper."
True to form for the Yellow Jackets, their tough defense overtook the Trojans in the second half.
"I think we just wore them down," Cresap said.
It didn't hurt that Perham connected almost 60 percent of their shots in the second half. The biggest coming at 3:36 when Bruhn broke away for another layup, scoring his Yellow Jackets high 21 points and giving Perham their first lead of the game.
Zach Gabbard, the Yellow Jacket bench and Perham faithful in the stands went ballistic, holding their all-familiar three fingers in the air.
But at that moment, Perham didn't look back, as they held Worthington to just five points the rest of the game.
They will continue to look forward heading into Friday's semi-finals match-up against fourth ranked Litchfield and all the while leaving last year's drama behind them, while creating new memories for players, coaches and the tight-knit Perham community.
For a second time.
Class 2A Boys State Basketball Friday's Semifinals at Target Center
6 p.m./ Perham (28-2) vs. Litchfield (25-4)
8 p.m./ Plainview-Elgin-Millville (25-6) vs. Braham (30-1)
Worthington vs Perham
3/21/12 6:00pm at Target Center
At Target Center
PERHAM 51, WORTHINGTON 47
Weg, Mitch 11-16 2-4 24; Henning, Lucas 3-7 0-0 9; Traylor, Morgan 3-9 0-0
6; Vorwald, Jon 1-4 0-0 2; Grafing, Spencer 1-3 0-0 2; Reller, Jon 1-2 0-0
2; Potter, Marcus 1-2 0-0 2; Wetering, Dan 0-1 0-0 0; Verdoorn, Tyler 0-1
0-0 0. Totals 21-45 2-4 47.
Bruhn, Jordan 8-14 3-4 21; Cresap, Jordan 6-9 0-1 13; Schumacher, Mark 3-9
2-3 8; Anderson, Jordan 1-6 3-4 5; Wiskow, Mike 2-3 0-0 4; Nordick, Josh 0-0 0-0 0; Cavanagh, Dan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-41 8-12 51.
Worthington................... 24 23 - 47
Perham........................ 22 29 - 51
3-point goals--Worthington 3-10 (Henning, Lucas 3-7; Vorwald, Jon 0-1;
Grafing, Spencer 0-1; Wetering, Dan 0-1), Perham 3-12 (Bruhn, Jordan 2-3;
Cresap, Jordan 1-4; Anderson, Jordan 0-4; Schumacher, Mark 0-1). Fouled
out--Worthington-None, Perham-None. Rebounds--Worthington 26 (Weg, Mitch
10), Perham 23 (Schumacher, Mark 8). Assists--Worthington 4 (Henning, Lucas
1; Wetering, Dan 1; Weg, Mitch 1; Vorwald, Jon 1), Perham 7 (Bruhn, Jordan
7). Total fouls--Worthington 16, Perham 9. Technical