Yellowjackets advance to subsection semifinals
BARNESVILLE — The No. 5-seeded Perham Yellowjackets took control of the second half and held on to defeat No. 4 Barnesville 50-48 in the opening round of the Section 8AA girls basketball playoffs Thursday evening.
The victory avoided a Barnesville sweep of both the season against the Lady Jackets and during the week after the Perham boys team was eliminated by the Trojans Tuesday night.
“We definitely came out here with a chip on our shoulder...and...a little spark in our behind,” senior Tina Scheidecker said. “We knew Barnesville was going to come out strong after that win, so we wanted to come out strong and beat them on their home floor.”
Perham used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to break open a tight game opening up a 10-point lead 40-30.
Holly Vancura hit two big 3-point baskets and the Trojans took advantage of Perham turnovers to claw back to a 44-all tie with 1:18 remaining in the game.
Perham did not fade and Ella Von Ruden answered immediately to put Perham back in front.
Von Ruden and Brittany Miller each added a free throw on successive trips to go up four points, meanwhile, Barnesville went cold in the final minute missing four straight shot attempts.
Nicole Herbranson cut Perham’s lead to 48-45 with 6.7 seconds left on the clock.
Scheidecker sealed the game for Perham making two free throws to push the lead to four points with 5.1 remaining.
“It was great,” Scheidecker said. “We stayed after practice all week and shot free throws and it felt good to get up there. (Head Coach T.J.) Super told me, ‘you’re the senior, be a leader,’ and going up there and hitting them is probably the best feeling in the world right now.”
Barnesville’s Megan Nielsen scored a quick bucket and Perham was forced to in-bounds the ball - with less than a second remaining - which landed in Trojan hands at mid-court but a heave at the horn fell plenty short.
Barnesville had defeated Perham twice this season by 12 and 13 points, but Perham employed a 2-3 half court defensive zone that shut down the Trojan posts inside and forced Barnesville to work from the perimeter.
The zone was essential for victory and complimented youthful scoring on offense.
“When you have a girl like Von Ruden in the middle,” Super said. “I don’t like zone; I don’t want to play it, but you’ve got to do it to win the game. I thought we did a good job with it.”
Sophomore Von Ruden was dominant on defense and added a dozen points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Fellow sophomore Maria Rutten led all scorers with 16 points. Scheidecker had nine points and six steals; junior point guard Brittany Miller scored eight.
Rutten has scored in double figures in Perham’s past two victories and shot 6-13 Thursday night with one of Perham's two 3-pointers. Miller had the other.
“I just started driving a lot,” said Rutten. “My teammates get open and they swing it and it all works out, I guess.”
Perham got to the line twice as often as the Trojans making 14 of 22 attempts. Barnesville was 7-11. The Trojans outrebounded Perham 40-27.
Barnesville’s backcourt scoring was indicative of having to attack the basket from outside.
Holly Vancura led the Trojans with 13 points; Herbranson added 12; Nielson scored 10.
Barnesville’s post players freshman Peyton Boom and Alissa Bentley were held to five and six points, respectively. Bentley sat much of the second half with her fourth foul and fouled out in the final half-minute.
When Barnesville was able to get inside Perham’s zone the Trojans ran into Von Ruden and were forced to throw up contested shots.
The victory snapped a four year drought for the Yellowjackets. The last Perham girls playoff victory in basketball was March 4, 2010 over Pelican Rapids 74-55 in Perham.
“I said to the girls, ‘no one in the high school has seen a girls basketball team win a playoff game, so, it is a big deal,’" Super said. "It’s a signature win. It’s big. We want to keep it going. Our girls are playing well right now. We have athletes; we’ve got girls who understand the game right now. We take care of the ball and we’re strong with it.”
Perham advanced to face Heart O’ Lakes champions and the top seed in the tournament - the Hawley Nuggets. The Nuggets defeated Wadena-Deer Creek in their opener 58-34.
“We’ve got a shot to do something special Saturday against Hawley,” said Super.
No. 2 Breckenridge sneaked by No. 7 Frazee 44-40 at home. The Cowgirls will face No. 6 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton. The Rebels outlasted Pelican Rapids 75-71 in overtime.
Alyson Brenna scored 18 points to lead D-G-F. Lincoln Haiby poured in 33 points in a losing effort for the Vikings.
Hawley and Perham will square off in the opening game at 6 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium at Concordia College Saturday, March 8. Breckenridge will face D-G-F in the 7:45 p.m. nightcap. In 6A playoffs, New York Mills will play in the 2:45 p.m. game at Concordia against Lake Park-Audubon. The No. 2 Eagles defeated No. 7 Park Christian 62-32.
“It’s pretty nerve racking but I think we’re ready for it,” Rutten said. “We’re ready to take on Hawley. You can’t beat a team three times and we showed that out there today.”
Perham improves to 12-14 on the season, 10 more victories than last year's two-win season, Super's first.
In an April 2013 interview with the Focus about his retirement, former athletic and activities director Fred Sailer made a prediction about Super and this year's team that has since come true.
“Mark my words, this guy will have a great career in Perham,” Sailer said of Super. “When I watch somebody like him - he’s organized, he’s got energy, he’s got a plan. I’ll bet you they win no less than 12 games next year, maybe 15. That guy is one of the best young hires. I hope people write it down who don’t believe in him because he’s going to be big here.”
PER 23 27 — 50
BAR 21 27 — 48
PER: Rutten 16, Von Ruden 12, T. Scheidecker 9, Miller 8, Erickson 3, Beachy 2.
BAR: Vancura 13, Herbranson 12, Nielsen 10, Bentley 6, Boom 5, Skogen 2.