When reviewing the tape of its 49-35 victory over Detroit Lakes, the Perham girls basketball team may want to skip over the second half. As good as the first half was for Perham, the second half was just the opposite at the Hive on Jan. 20.

The Yellowjackets were all over the floor offensively and defensively in the first half, making it tough for the Lakers to get any traction as they built up a commanding 35-12 lead. However, early turnovers and struggles on defense let the Lakers cut the lead down to 11, before Perham closed it out at the free throw line. In fact, nine of the 14 second half points from Perham came at the free throw line.

Perham head coach TJ Super said the team was on a two-week journey to see where they are after losing guard Greta Hillukaka to a knee injury. One of the things he said the team learned is that rebounding can win a lot of basketball games. He commended the rebounding effort in the first half. Perham corralled 13 first half rebounds, while holding Detroit Lakes to just three.

“In the second half, things got a bit ugly, but we got enough stops and rebounds to pull through,” Super said. “Hopefully, the girls learned something from that.”

Perham used an 18-2 run to seize control of the game in the first half. Perham was quick on their cuts and used the extra pass to get open looks at the basket. Katie Johnson scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the first half and was one of three Yellowjackets in double figures.

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Perham's Katie Johnson spins into the lane as she is being guarded by Detroit Lakes' Maddy Bowers. Johnson finished with a game-high of 20 points, helping Perham to its 10th win of the season. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)
Perham's Katie Johnson spins into the lane as she is being guarded by Detroit Lakes' Maddy Bowers. Johnson finished with a game-high of 20 points, helping Perham to its 10th win of the season. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

“I thought we did a really good job of moving the basketball. They were keying in on Sydney Anderson and Johnson and they still got open. Grayce Mickelson and Lily DeBoer did a great job of driving the basketball. They didn’t score a lot, but they got a lot of opportunities for other girls,” Super said. “They collapsed the defense a lot. This was the first time I thought that Stella Raser looked comfortable in the offense in one of her first games back. The girls did a better job of looking for her and that changes our offense when we have a post presence like her inside. When you put all those things together, I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Raser finished the game with 11 points for Perham, while Anderson added 10. The Yellowjackets hit 10 3-pointers in the game and were 10 of 21 from the 3-point line. Johnson hit three 3-pointers in the first half, helping Perham build up its big lead.

Super was happy with the defensive effort. The Yellowjackets recorded nine first half steals and nine defensive boards in the first half, which he said keyed the success on offense.

“Our defense was really good. We got a lot of steals and a lot of rebounds,” Super said. “We score a lot of points in transition and that’s where a lot of if came from.”

One of the things Super said the team needs to improve upon is playing consistent basketball. He said the second half was a downturn in the way they were playing, but the first half was too much for Detroit Lakes to overcome.

“We played well enough, dominated enough in the first half and won the game in the first half,” Super said. “We still got a bunch of stops down the stretch to get the win tonight. We realize we have two tough games this week and the rest of our schedule is tough. Hopefully, we have re-identified and we know who we are and can be successful going forward.”

Despite the struggles in the first half, the Lakers battled back and cut the lead down to 11 points late in the second half. However, Perham was able to hit from the free throw line. Perham was nine of 14 at the line in the second half, helping them secure the win.

Alex Bettcher was the lone player in double figures for Detroit Lakes. She finished with 16 points. Sophie Gunderson added eight points for the Lakers.

The Lakers dropped to 6-8 overall on the season, while Perham improved to 10-5. The Yellowjackets are on the road on Jan. 23 for a 7:30 p.m. tip with Crookston. Perham returns home on Jan. 24 against Breckenridge at 7:30 p.m.

DL 12 23--35

PER 35 14--49

DL-Abby Larson 2, Maddy Bowers 4, Alex Bettcher 16, Sophie Gunderson 8, Sarah Tangen 5

3-pointers: Bettcher, Tangen. Free Throws: 3-6. Team Fouls: 18. Fouled Out: None

PER-Mallory Belka 3, Lily DeBoer 5, Stella Raser 11, Sydney Anderson 10, Katie Johnson 20.

3-pointers: Belka, DeBoer, Anderson 2, Johnson 3. Free Throws: 12-19. Team Fouls: 8. Fouled Out: None