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Perham streaks into the section semifinals

Jenson Beachy of Perham performs a layup against East Grand Forks during their Minn. Class 2A, Section 8 basketball tournament game Saturday, March 10, 2018 at Concordia, Moorhead. Photos by Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

An 11-0 run in the first half was a sign of things to come for the No.3 ranked Perham Yellowjackets when they defeated the East Grand Forks Green Wave 83-63 in the Section 8AA quarterfinals at Concordia College on March 10.

“We started out like gangbusters and then we let up and let them back into the game and it was a relatively close game at halftime,” Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. “I knew their pressure was going to come out and get us and we were going to attack down hill and we did.”

Carter Cresap of Perham performs a layup in front of Julian Benson

The win puts the Yellowjackets one step closer to the Section 8AA Championship game. The Yellowjackets have a quick turnaround when they play in the Section 8AA semifinals on Monday, March 12 at Moorhead High School.

Jenson Beachy finished with 27 points, leading the Yellowjackets. Josh Jeziorski added 25 and Martin LaFond finished with 14 points.

Despite the strong start, the Green Wave hung around and made things difficult for the Yellowjackets, eventually cutting the lead down to seven points at the half, 36-29.

“We knew we weren’t playing our best basketball and coming off of our win on Thursday we knew we could play better,” Beachy said. “We just decided that we had to hunker down, give our best effort and play as a team. That was the biggest key.”

Another key for the Yellowjackets was the team’s energy level from the first round to the quarterfinals. Cresap was not happy with the team’s energy level in the first round, but he was much happier with it during the quarterfinal victory.

“Cresap really got on us, saying we need to get going, get our team going. Our bench energy was amazing,” Jeziorski said. “They always had our back any time we needed to do something better. Logan got big inside and our guards handled the ball very well.”The Yellowjackets took charge in the second half, attacking inside and getting good looks at the basket. The Yellowjackets were 79.4 percent from inside the arc and 69.4 percent from the field in the game. Cresap said he knew their pressure would come out at them and they needed to exploit it inside.

“I thought Carter (Cresap) played a heck of a game against their pressure, never turning the ball over,” Cresap said. “We got it to Jenson (Beach) and Martin (LaFond) on the wings and we were attacking their pressure, getting to the rim. Josh (Jeziorski) and Logan (Richter) were magnificent in the second half. We just took control and got the big lead. It was nice to get everyone into the game.”

The momentum started to turn early in the second half when Logan Richter set a strong screen near the 3-point line and drilled a 3-pointer. He followed it up with an assist inside to a cutting Martin LaFond. Richter followed it with a steal as well, helping jumpstart Perham in the second half.

“He’s a good player for us,” Jeziorski said. “That three really gave us a good turning point and we were like, Let’s go. We’re turning on the jets and we’re going. We got to get momentum, we got to get the ball, we’re going to go.’”

The Yellowjackets stretched the lead out to 28 points in the second half, before East Grand Forks hit some late buckets to close the gap on the final score.

“We were sharing it well today and doing some good things. When we are doing that, we are pretty good,” Cresap said. “If we keep doing that, we are going to be a tough team.”

Finn Diggins goes in for the layup attempt against East Grand Forks.

Sam Votava led the way for East Grand Forks with 20 points, while Julian Benson added 18.

The Yellowjackets improved their season mark to 28-0 and will take on either Osakis or Warroad in the semifinals on Monday, March 10 at 6 p.m. at Moorhead High School.

“In the back of our minds we know we’re undefeated, we know we’re 28-0, but I think, looking at it, it’s just mindset we have to have,” Beachy said. “We have to come in every game better and more ready to go. There’s just so much more we have to do with the zero losses and the rankings. We just have to come ready. Teams will look at it and say, ‘Oh, these guys are good.’ When you play us that’s when you really realize that we’re good.”

EGF 29 34--63

PER 36 47--83

EGF: Jacob Anderson 2, Tyler Vossler 3, Steven Widman 7, Julian Benson 18, Cole Anderson 13, Sam Votava 20

3-pointers: Benson 3, Anderson 2, Votava 2 Free Throws:10-19 Fouls: Fouled Out: Anderson

PER: Daniel Zitzow 1, Carter Cresap 6, Martin LaFond 14, Jenson Beachy 27, Josh Jeziorski 25, Logan Richter 7, Charlie Rasmussen 3

3-pointers:LaFond 2, Beachy 2, Richter  Free Throws: 14-23 Fouls: 14 Fouled Out: None

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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