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Perham opens with familiar foe in Section 8AA

Perham's Mesa Schultz drives to the basket against Wadena-Deer Creek during the regular season. The two teams will meet again during the first round of the Section 8AA playoffs in Perham on Thursday at 7 p.m. Jason Groth/FOCUS

Two familiar teams will square off at the Hive in the opening round of the Section 8AA girls basketball quarterfinals on Feb. 28 in Perham. The Perham Yellowjackets captured the No. 3 seed in the south and will take on Wadena-Deer Creek, who earned the No. 6 seed.

The two teams met once during the regular season with Perham earning a 54-44 victory at the Hive. However, both teams have changed since that date. Wadena-Deer Creek head coach Jordan Cresap said Perham is a tough team.

"They have beaten some real good squads as of late. They have some firepower, they can shoot the rock and they have a good post, who can do a lot of different things," Cresap said. "It's going to be a tough matchup for us, but I think we are up to the challenge and we will see what happens."

Perham head coach T.J. Super said the Yellowjackets had some ups and downs, with showing some inconsistency. He said it was a good season and they kept improving. He said that the Wolverines are an improved team from their first meeting.

"They seem like us in a sense in that they can be up and they can be down," Super said. "They are going to play good man-to-man defense and run a Perham boys basketball style of offense with a lot of screen and rolls. They have a couple of girls, who can score it inside and one that can really fill it up on any given night. We are going to have our hands full."

In their first meeting, Katie Johnson led the Yellowjackets with 16 points. Mesa Schultz finished with 14 points for Perham. Schultz has provided a strong attack inside for Perham, which opens things up on the outside where Perham has several shooters who can hit the 3-pointer.

Cresap said the Wolverines will need to play well-rounded game if they want to pull out the victory against the Yellowjackets. He added defending the Perham shooters will be key for them.

"They have shooters all over the place," Cresap said. "Anyone that you name, they can shoot. We are going to have to defend the 3-point line really well and we are going to have to play good on the interior with their posts. They have good posts. We have to finish possessions with rebounds and get after it."

Super said one of the keys for the Yellowjackets on offense will be making the correct decisions. Sometimes, he said, the Yellowjackets can get sloppy on offense.

Super said defensively they need to focus on the boards. It's been a key for the Yellowjackets all season long.

"We are not a huge team, but we can be a good rebounding team or we can be quite poor at times," Super said. "It often is the link to our success. When the girls make the decision to get down and box out, we can be a really good defensive team."

Kennedy Gravelle and Madison Carsten led the Wolverines in the first meeting. They finished with 10 points each in the game. Ashley Adams added nine points in the only meeting between the two teams. In that game, the Wolverines went cold for a spell on offense and Cresap said hitting shots is one of the keys for Wadena-DC.

"It comes down to hitting shots. We have been a little up and down this season," Cresap said. "If we can hit some shots, I think we can stay in it. Offensively, we have to stay patient and play at our pace. We can't get too fast and get too rattled. Sometimes, we get a little panicky. That control and poise will be huge for us."

Cresap said one of the things he took away from their first meeting was that Perham has a lot of weapons.

"If we have any lapses defensively where we are not matching up or boxing out, they can make you pay and make you pay really quick with dagger three's," Cresap said. "They have a lot of weapons and we have to know that. We have to be as solid as we possibly can."

Other first round games include Roseau hosting Bagley, while Barnesville plays host to Staples-Motley. Breckenridge will square off with Frazee, while Hawley takes on Thief River Falls. Park Rapids Area hosts Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, while Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton plays Crookston. East Grand Forks squares off with Warroad in the first round.

The quarter finals are on for March 2 at Concordia-Moorhead, while the semi finals on March 4. The championship is set for March 8.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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