The Perham Yellowjackets continued its season-opening winning streak with a 63-33 victory over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on Jan. 25. It improved their mark to 17-0 overall and 7-0 in conference play.
Most importantly, the Yellowjackets maintained their two-game lead on the conference and kept the momentum on their side heading into a much-anticipated rematch with Breckenridge at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2 at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium.
The Cowboys upended the Yellowjackets in last season's Section 8AA championship game, putting an end to a 27-win season for Perham.
The seventh-ranked Yellowjackets won the previous meeting between the two teams this year 75-70.
"The first game was two really good teams getting after each other," Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. "We were able to handle their pressure well enough to win."
The Cowboys have been playing some of their best basketball of late, rattling off 14 straight wins since the loss to Perham and winning their last four games by an average of 40.5 points. The Cowboys are led by a dynamic duo of Noah Christensen and Derek Dahlgren.
In the first meeting, Dahlgren caught fire, scoring 19 of his 27 points in the final minutes of the game. Christensen added 27 as well for the Cowboys.
"Defensively, we will have to work extremely hard on containing Dahlgren and Christensen," Cresap said. "We can't get into early foul trouble as that could dictate the outcome of the game. We must rebound, especially on the defensive end of the floor."
Balance was the key for the Yellowjackets in the win against Breckenridge. The Yellowjackets had five players in double figures. Jenson Beachy finished with 19 points, while John LaFond added 15. Martin LaFond finished with 14, while Carter Cresap and Josh Jeziorski finished with 12 points each.
Dave Cresap said the team needs to be in attack mode from the start of the game and hopes the bench can provide great energy.
The Yellowjackets overcame a sluggish first half against DGF, outscoring the Rebels 38-17 after the break. The Yellowjackets were aggressive on the glass, out-rebounding the Rebels 37-18. Beachy and Martin LaFond led the way with 16 points each, while Josh Jeziorski finished with 14 points. The trio continued to lead the Yellowjackets, but they have been getting strong efforts from their supporting cast as well. Finn Diggins added six points and five rebounds.
The Yellowjackets enter the contest with a 17-0 mark, while Breckenridge is 15-2. Perham holds a two-game edge on Breckenridge in conference play with the Cowboys dropping a game to Hawley earlier in the season.
"We are excited about this game, but not going to make it a must-win game. Players need to know what great job they have done this year, and I'm not going to add any more pressure," Cresap said. "Yes, we are coming out to win, but not to the point the players tense up. We need to go out, play hard, execute and see what we need to do to beat them if we play them again in March."
DGF 16 17--33
PER 25 38--63
DGF-Nick Lund 7, Aiden Leach 2, Jackson Tahran 2, Drew Coalwell 5, Nathan Leitner 5, Tanner Tehran 6, Nathan Brown 4, Chris Walz 2
3-pointers: Lund, Leitner, Tehran. Free Throws: 2-11. Team Fouls: 19. Fouled Out: None
PER-Tanner Knutson 4, Jenson Beachy 16, Martin LaFond 16, Josh Jeziorski 14, John LaFond 2, Seth Johnson 1, Finn Diggins 6, Logan Richter 4
3-pointers: Beachy 2, Jeziorski. Free Throws: 17-25. Team Fouls: 12. Fouled Out: None
Perham 52, Barnesville 49
The Yellowjackets held off an upset-minded Barnesville on Jan. 23 when the Yellowjackets came away with a 52-49 victory.
Barnesville has been a house of horrors in years past for the Yellowjackets. Two years ago, they were upset by Barnesville, but last year they cruised to a road win. This time, they maintained the lead in the second half, but the Trojans kept within striking distance.
Jenson Beachy led the Yellowjackets with 19 points. He hit four 3-pointers in the win. Martin LaFond added 10 points in the game. Josh Jeziorski finished with eight points.
Both teams were very efficient with their shots. The Yellowjackets shot 51.4 percent from the field, while the Trojans were 51.5 percent from the field. The Yellowjackets were 36.8 percent from deep, hitting seven of 19, while Barnesville was 50 percent, connecting on five of 10.
Charle Aakre led the way with 15 points, while Adam Tonsfeldt added 11. Hunter Zenzen finished with 10 points for the Trojans.
PER 23 29--52
BAR 21 28--49
PER-Jenson Beachy 19, Martin LaFond 10, Josh Jeziorski 8, Ben Winkels 6, Carter Cresap 2, Finn Diggins 4, Logan Richter 3
3-pointers: Beachy 4, LaFond, Winkels 2. Free Throws: 9-16. Team Fouls: 18. Fouled Out: Richter
BAR-Logan Bang 5, Adam Tonsfeldt 11, Matthew Bredman 3, Charle Aakre 15, Jason Hendrickson 4, Brooks Martinson 1, Hunter Zenzen 10.
3-pointers: Bang 2, Tonsfeldt 3, Aakre. Free Throws: 10-21. Team Fouls: 18. Fouled Out: None