The Perham girls basketball team put together a performance that it hopes becomes the norm and not the exception. After struggling out of the gates against Menahga and Henning, the Yellowjackets blitzed the Park Rapids Area Panthers with their best performance of the young season. Perham cruised to an 88-51 victory at the Hive on Dec. 2.
“It feels great to win a game, but win or lose, it feels good to actually play good basketball, the kind of basketball that I’ve seen them play during the summer and the kind that I have seen them play in practice,” Perham head coach T.J. Super said. “We have thrown a couple of stinkers out there in our first two games, so it was nice for us to see it too.”
Greta Hillukka had a breakout performance for the Yellowjackets, finishing with a game-high of 29 points. She hauled in six rebounds and dished out six assists.
“It was a lot better than the last two. We definitely started playing as a team,” Hillukka said. “We kind of figured out our roles and we started playing together, which made a big difference.”
Sydney Anderson finished the game with 21 points off the bench for Perham, while Grayce Mickelson and Willow Thiel added eight points each. Perham was balanced throughout, which helped them open up a big first half lead.
“It’s a lot better to win as a team. The locker room was way more energetic,” Hillukka said. “Everyone just felt really good about the game, and it wasn’t just one player, which was nice.”
The Yellowjackets stormed out to a 17-4 run in the early minutes of the game. The defense came up with key stops, which opened things up offensively. Anderson capped off the run with a 3-pointer, which featured points from six different players.
“I think we all learned that if we want to score on offense, we have to get stops on defense,” Hillukka said. “Even if we can score all the points in the world that we want on offense, but if we can’t get defensive stops, we are going to lose.”
The Yellowjackets carried a 50-19 lead into the break and never looked back as they outscored the Panthers 38-32 in the second half, cruising to victory.
Super said tonight was the night where they saw multiple players step out and play good games.
“We got off to a nice start, and it was really good to see our defense instigate that. So many people think getting off to a fast start means that your offense is playing so well, but it was our defense. It was our defensive execution, communication and our rebounding which was what I was really proud of,” Super said. “Lily DeBoer was kind of a monster on the boards tonight. She didn’t get a ton of rebounds, but she was boxing out like a madman, keeping the Park Rapids big girls away. Our guards came in and got a lot of rebounds and then we got transition points to get us going.”
The Yellowjackets forced 10 first half turnovers and finished with 11 steals for the game in the victory. The Yellowjackets were seven of 18 from the 3-point line in the victory. Mallory Belka, Hillukka, Anderson and Katie Johnson all hit from deep in the victory. The Yellowjackets grabbed 32 rebounds in the win for Perham.
Perham improved its season mark to 1-2 overall, while Park Rapids Area dropped to 0-2. The Yellowjackets return to the floor on Dec. 10 when they travel to Thief River Falls to take on the Prowlers.
PRK 19 32--51
PER 50 38--88
PRK- Abby Morris 7, Tori Weaver 4, Olivia Davis 2, Paige Johnson 13, Rilee Michaelson 17, Katie Burlingame 4, Ari Borge 4
3-pointers: Morris, Johnson, Michaelson, Burlingame. Free Throws: 7-12. Team Fouls: 15. Fouled Out: None
PER- Mya Morris 2, Katie Zepper 2, Mallory Belka 3, Greta Hillukka 29, Lily DeBoer 6, Olivia Pilgrim 2, Willow Thiel 8, Sydney Anderson 21, Katie Johnson 7, Grayce Mickelson 8.
3-pointers: Belka, Hillukka 2, Anderson 3, Johnson. Free Throws: 11-14. Team Fouls: 12. Fouled Out: None