The Perham boys basketball team got the proverbial monkey of its back when they used a 6-0 run in the closing minute to defeat Hawley 53-47 in the Section 8AA Championship at Memorial Auditorium on March 16.
It was a game of momentum swings in the second half and it appeared Perham was on the brink of falling in its fourth consecutive section final. Jayden Carlisle sank a 3-pointer for Hawley, evening the score at 47. However, Jenson Beachy calmly took control driving to the hoop, drawing the foul and sinking the two free throws.
On the ensuing play, Jacob Vetter drove to the hoop, but John LaFond came up with a key steal, which continued as the Yellowjackets closed it out.
“That’s 5’11 guarding 6’5” and that’s pretty good,” Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. “I’m proud of that kid. He played his heart out all night. I texted him last night and said he would be a key to this game and he said he got it and he did.”
Beachy finished with 17 points, while Finn Diggins added 12 and Josh Jeziorski finished with 10 points for Perham.
“It’s crazy, being a part of three section championship losses is hard,” Beachy said. “Coming into this one, senior year, I knew we couldn’t leave our heart on another section championship loss. I knew we had to go out with a win and we definitely did. Kudos to the Hawley basketball team. I’m so happy that we are moving on.”
Cresap said he was so proud of his team after the game and said they came up with several key plays, which helped them win the game.
“People don’t understand that there are about five big plays, LaFond steal under the basket, Beachy getting trapped finds Lafond, who finds Carter (Cresap) breaking to the basket. Finn diving on the floor for a loose ball, those win games,” Cresap said. “Those win games and we did that the whole night.”
Beachy said following the semifinal, the Yellowjackets would have to face some adversity and they did that in the closing minutes of the game. Diggins after controlling the paint for Perham, finished with 12 points, fouled out with three minutes to go.
“We have guys off the bench, who are always ready to play and that definitely showed when Diggins picked up his fifth foul,” Beachy said. “When Finn went down, he was having a hard time, but he believe in John and everyone else did too.”
Noah Glad led Hawley with 16 points, while Vetter finished with 14 points for Hawley, who gave the Yellowjackets everything they could handle in their third meeting of the year. Beachy said they knew they had their work cut out for them when they realized that Hawley had won last night.
“We knew nothing was going to come easy and we had to put our best effort on every play,” Beachy said. “Their goal was to outwork us and we worked hard on both sides of the ball. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.
Perham built up a six-point first half lead, before Hawley rallied back with a 6-2 run, cutting the lead to 24-22.
Neither team could pull away from each other in the second half as the lead traded midway through the half. However, Perham stretched it out to seven points, but Hawley chipped away at the lead.
Carlisle tied the game with a 3-pointer at 47, but Beachy and company came up with the key plays when needed. Beachy said it took a lot for it to sink in.
“The whole game I was just trying to pump up the crowd and make them believe we can do it, make our teammates believe and make our coaches believe, when it happened, it was surreal,” Beachy said of the final seconds.
Cresap was quick to credit the Perham crowd and said they played a big role in helping the Yellowjackets pick up the win.
Hawley had its season come to an end with a 23-5 record. Perham improved to 29-1 and will play in the Class AA Tournament, beginning on March 20.
HAW 22 25--47
PER 24 29--53
HAW- Mason Klevgaard 3, Jayden Carlisle 5, Jacob Vetter 14, Noah Glad 16, Gunnar Lawson 7, Chase Libak
PER- Jenson Beachy 17, Charlie Rasmussen 4, Josh Jeziorski 10, Finn Diggins 12, John Lafond 2, Carter Cresap 5, Elijah Morris 3