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Barnesville knocks off Perham in sub-section final

The Barnesville Trojans celebrate winning the Section 8AA South Subsection Championship Tuesday night over the three-time defending champion Perham Yellowjackets. Photos by Robert Williams/FOCUS

MOORHEAD – It was a Perham boys basketball team that had beaten Barnesville twice during the regular season and every team it had faced in the three previous Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 tournaments.

Barnesville needed a knight to slay the Yellowjackets. They got a night out of Michael Strand, as the senior point guard scored 15 of his game-high 16 points in the second half to knock off Perham 48-45 Tuesday in the South sub-section final at Memorial Auditorium.

“I just started attacking,” Strand said. “I believed in myself and my teammates, and it worked.”

It was Strand’s 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 45 seconds to go that gave Barnesville its first lead in the second half at 33-32. It was Strand’s layup with 2:12 to go that pushed the lead to 40-37. It was Strand’s rebound on a missed Perham 3-pointer and assist to a wide-open Kyler Martz that pushed the Trojans lead to 42-37 with 1:30 to go. It was Strand’s four free throws in the closing minute that sealed it.

It was Strand.

“We came out firing in the second half,” Strand said. “We weren’t shying away from anything. We were going at them with all we had.”

Barnesville had 13 points in the first half. With 14 minutes to go in the game, Strand had more fouls than points.

“We started attacking in the second half,” Barnesville coach Todd Henrickson said. “We knew our back was against the wall. We had no other choice, but to start going after them. Michael kind of woke up a little bit.”

Martz and Strand – the two leading scorers for Barnesville – combined for three points in the first half, as the Trojans trailed 19-13. After Strand’s 3-pointer gave Barnesville its first lead in the second half, Perham answered with a Sam Muer layup to take the lead back. Martz came down and buried a 3-pointer to give Barnesville (22-5) a lead it would never give up.

“They realized what our situation was and they came out and made it happen,” Henrickson said. “Give credit to our kids and our assistant coaches. They deserve this.”

Barnesville’s boys basketball team has not been to the state tournament since 1999. All that stands in the Trojans’ way is East Grand Forks on Friday at Bemidji State.

“The confidence came for us,” Martz said. “We’re going to be talking about going to state the entire bus ride home. If we can finally get that breakthrough, it would be huge for this community.”

Perham has won the last three Class 2A, Section 8 titles. There’ll be a new champ Friday thanks to Barnesville.

“We’re not going there to be satisfied with just getting there,” Henrickson said. “We’re going to go in Friday night and we’re going to give it everything we got.”

Like any knight looking to slay a dragon, Strand had a simple solution for how Barnesville will get to state for the first time this century.

“Attack,” Strand said. “We just need to go in there and attack.”

P (20-8): Beachy 2 0-0 5, Glines 5 0-1 11, Salathe 7 0-0 14, Kenntemich 3 1-2 8, Muer 2 1-4 5, Bahls 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 2-7 45.

B (22-5): Strand 4 7-10 16, B. Sauve 4 3-5 11, Martz 3 3-3 10, B. Randklev 2 0-0 4, G. Sauve 2 0-0 4, N. Randklev 1 1-3 3. Totals 16 14-21 48.

Halftime: P 19, B 13. 3-pointers: Glines 1, Kenntemich 1, Beachy 1, Strand 1, Martz 1. Total fouls: P 20, B 10. Rebounds: P 22 (Salathe 9), B 19 (Martz 5).

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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