No. 4-ranked Perham stays undefeated with win over Fargo Oak Grove
MOORHEAD—The last time Perham's boys basketball team played on Concordia's Memorial Auditorium floor the Yellowjackets watched as Breckenridge celebrated a Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 championship.
The No. 4-ranked Yellowjackets are eyeing some new Concordia memories this season.
"That left a real sour taste in my mouth," Perham senior guard Martin LaFond said. "We had to come back harder, and it made everyone in the younger grades step up and look forward to this year and work harder than ever before. That's what they did."
Fresh off of completing a sweep of Breckenridge in the regular season on Friday, Perham topped North Dakota Class B's No. 4-ranked Fargo Oak Grove 71-55 on Saturday at Concordia.
"This was really, really good for me to see, coming off a big, emotional, 1,600 fans in the stands, win last night," Perham coach Dave Cresap said. "We had to put a lot of energy out, and we came back with the same energy today. That prepares you later on in the section and state tournaments if we get there."
Cresap smiled when asked if there was a reason Perham scheduled a game at Concordia. Was it to prepare for the section tournament, mainly the section championship game on March 15?
"Hopefully we can get here," Cresap said. "There's so much season left. There's a lot of teams around that can beat us. If we play at this level against a good team like that we're going to be pretty tough to beat."
No team has beaten the Yellowjackets yet, as they moved to 19-0 with the win and remain the only undefeated team in Class 2A.
"We are on a really, really good run here," said Perham junior forward Josh Jeziorski, who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds Saturday. "We're playing very good offense and defense and our bench energy is just fantastic. Our teammates always have our back, our coaching staff is doing the right thing and we're just playing really well."
Oak Grove had an early 10-9 lead on Perham, but the Yellowjackets answered with an 11-0 run. The Grovers had four straight turnovers to help fuel the Perham run, as Jeziorski scored six during it. The closest the Grovers got was eight for the rest of the half, as Perham took a 33-23 lead into halftime.
"Our mental toughness was tested tonight," said LaFond, who finished with 20 points.
The Grovers (13-2) cut the lead to 44-39 midway through the second half on an Andrew Christianson jumper, but Perham answered with a quick 7-0 run to snatch all momentum back. Jenson Beachy and Jeziorski each drove to the hoop for layups and LaFond did the same for a three-point play to give Perham a 12-point cushion.
Oak Grove never recovered.
"It's got to be pretty hard to guard us because if one of us goes off and they shut him down then there goes another one," LaFond said. "It's just bang, bang, bang."
The Yellowjackets didn't say goodbye to Concordia on Saturday. They said see you later.
"We know what we're looking for later in March," Jeziorski said. "When March comes around we just have to get ready for what's coming next."
Half: Perham 33, Oak Grove 23
OG: Christianson 22, Anderson 7, Rodriguez 16, Hoggarth 6, Bolme 2, Swenson 2.
P: Beachy 16, M. LaFond 20, Jeziorski 24, Winkels 3, J. LaFond 2, Diggins 4, Richter 2.