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PHS Boys Basketball: Big first half leads Perham over Adrian at Daily Globe Classic in Worthington

Perham's Jordan Bruhn goes up for a shot over an Adrian defender during Tuesday night's Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic in Worthington. Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe

Setting the tone early with a stellar team defensive performance, the young and talented Perham Yellowjackets took command in the first half Tuesday night and cruised to a 63-43 victory over Adrian in the opening game of the 12th Annual Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic high school boys' basketball tournament.

The impressive win by the Yellowjackets (5-1) advances Perham to tonight's championship game against the undefeated Worthington Trojans (5-0), a 65-33 victor over Brandon/Evansville in Tuesday's second semifinal contest.

"We played pretty well," Perham head coach Dave Cresap said after the game. "I was impressed early with our defense and I think that effort really set the tone for the game."

Perham, which has traditionally played fundamentally-sound man-to-man defense, had its strong suit functioning the way Cresap likes to see it during the majority of Tuesday's game, limiting Adrian to a mere 21 points over the first 25 minutes of action.

Meanwhile, the Yellowjackets were executing on offense and scoring in a variety of ways.

A total of eight Perham players scored in the first half, as the Yellowjackets opened up leads of 6-2, 11-4, 16-6, 19-8, 23-10, 26-14 and 32-15 before posting a 36-17 advantage at intermission.

"Perham executed very well," said Adrian head coach Cory Van Briesen about the Yellowjackets' first-half performance. "They have good guards, strong post play and just do a good job of running their offense."

Continually moving on offense and running timely backdoor cuts, the Yellowjackets scored often on wide-open lay-ups, as most Perham baskets were scored off of assists.

Exhibiting good offensive patience, the Yellowjackets also drilled a trio of 3-point shots --from three different players -- in the first half, and also scored on some dazzling penetrating drives.

"This year, we have several perimeter guards that can shoot and handle the ball," noted Cresap, who is in his 15th season as Perham's head coach (last season's 12-15 mark was the only campaign under .500).

The Yellowjackets also have a dominant force inside with the presence and strong play of six-foot-eight senior Ben Bucholz (16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, all game-highs) and smooth-moving 6-3 sophomore Sam Stratton (12 points, eight rebounds).

That inside combination teamed together numerous times, as several of Bucholz's assists were to Stratton.

On the perimeter, Yellowjacket guards Keith Schornack (5-8 junior), Zach Gabbard (6-1 sophomore) and Jordan Cresap (5-9 sophomore) all swished 3-pointers.

Gabbard made a spectacular drive through the lane for a Perham basket late in the half and 6-1 sophomore guard Jordan Bruhn's dazzling drive-and-dish to 5-11 sophomore Mike Wiskow for a buzzer-beating basket sent the Yellowjackets to the locker room with a 19-point spread.

Gabbard and 5-9 junior guard Desmine Duffy both finished the first half with seven points, while Bucholz -- who scored Perham's first six points -- and Stratton each contributed six before the break.

"I like our balance and I like our depth," declared Cresap, who also discussed the youth of his progressing team. "We used five sophomores, three juniors and one senior in our rotation in this game -- and we only had nine turnovers and outrebounded a taller team by a 33-19 margin."

Yellowjackets open second half on 17-4 run

Cresap's team left little doubt as to the outcome of the contest by immediately establishing itself in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring 10 unanswered points to extend the lead to 46-17 with 14:06 to play.

Adrian's Brendon Kopplow (seven points, three assists) muscled up an offensive rebound for the Dragons' first points of the second half with 13:49 on the clock.

Perham answered with a 3-pointer by 5-11 junior Nick Tobkin off of a well-executed ball reversal possession and with 13:07 remaining, the Yellowjackets had a 30-point lead at 49-19.

By the 11:01 mark, the lead had swelled to 53-21, as Bucholz scored two straight baskets down low, capping a 17-4 Perham run.

Adrian, however, kept the contest from going to running time (35-point lead with less than nine minutes to play) and outscored the Yellowjackets by a 22-10 margin the rest of the way.

Nate Reyne, a 6-5 senior forward who had scored six of Adrian's first half points and was praised by Van Briesen for his all-around defensive play -- both in the paint and on the perimeter -- had a hand in all three plays of a 6-0 Dragon surge that started the AHS rally.

Reyne (10 points, eight rebounds) scored twice and then found 6-7 sophomore post Kyle Kilgore (10 points) on a pick-and-roll that cut the Perham lead to 53-27.

"We kind of settled in and played better after those three straight scores," noted Van Briesen. "But it was too little, too late. You cannot let a team as good as Perham get you in the hole like we were."

A steal by 6-3 senior Mitchell Voss (six points) led to a basket by Kilgore and a 3-pointer by 5-11 senior Brandon Aggen helped trim the gap to 63-39. Then a pair of free throws by Kopplow and a nice drive by Voss closed the final spread down to 20 points.

In the first half, back-to-back reverse lay-ups by Kilgore and 5-11 senior Adam Diekmann (six points) had sparked a brief Dragon rally (cutting a 23-10 deficit to 23-14), but the Yellowjackets simply made too many outstanding plays and pulled away with its execution -- both offensively and defensively.

An impressive fastbreak from Tobkin (steal) to Duffy (assist) to Bucholz (basket) had given Perham an early 6-2 lead and the Yellowjackets never looked back.

A pair of penetrating drives by Duffy -- after long, patient offensive possessions in the closing minutes of the first half -- showed Perham's diversified perimeter play.

Tobkin, Bruhn and Jordan Cresap passed for a trio of assists each for the Yellowjackets, who shot nearly 50 percent from the field (28-of-57), while the Dragons were 17-of-45 for 38 percent.

"Adrian has a good team," concluded Cresap. "We were able to take some things away from them in the first half with our good team defense and strong rebounding efforts."

Adrian (3-3) plays Brandon/Evansville in the third-place game at 6 p.m. this evening.

Adrian 17 26 -- 43

Perham 36 27 -- 63

Adrian (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Diekmann 0-2-2-6, Aggen 1-0-0-3, Hornstein 0-0-1-1, Kilgore 0-5-0-10, Voss 0-3-0-6, Kopplow 0-2-3-7, Reyne 0-5-0-10. Totals 1-16-8-43.

Perham (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Duffy 0-3-1-7, Gabbard 1-4-0-11, Bucholz 0-7-2-16, Tobkin 1-1-0-5, Cresap 1-0-0-3, Schornack 1-0-0-3, Bruhn 0-2-0-4, Stratton 0-6-0-12, Wiskow 0-1-0-2. Totals 4-24-3-63.