Perham played an excellent defensive game but undefeated No. 5AA Pelican Rapids used a formula that has worked for 25 consecutive wins to defeat the Yellowjackets 45-34 on Senior Night in Pelican Rapids Friday, Feb. 21.
“We kept our composure,” Pelican Rapids head coach Brian Korf said. “They didn’t rattle and kept on doing what they’ve been doing, all the girls out there; it was a team effort, very proud of them.”
Perham led only once in the game on the opening bucket by Sydney Anderson.
The Yellowjackets were not quick to give the lead up holding Pelican Rapids scoreless for the first three minutes and 23 seconds.
“Our girls worked their butts off,” Perham head coach T.J. Super said. “They committed to playing great defense and rebounding the basketball. We played really well. I thought we got a bunch of tough breaks, it didn't seem like anything went our way tonight.”
Both teams were tough to work against creating long half-court sets looking for points all game long.
A pair of Greta Tollefson free throws and a three-pointer by Anna Stephenson kicked the Vikings into gear and a 5-2 advantage.
Stephenson scored three the hard way minutes later to put Pelican up 12-5, but Perham had an answer off the bench in freshman guard Mya Morris.
Morris drained her first of four threes in the game to keep the Jackets down only four points.
At the four-minute mark, Stephenson answered a nice floater from Perham’s Katie Johnson with a quick field goal to put the Vikings up eight at 18-10.
This is where the Vikings typically pull away swiftly, but Perham hung around.
Willow Thiel hit a field goal and Morris sank her second three for a five-point Perham run. Anderson followed up with a bucket at 3:30 and the Jackets trailed 18-17.
The Vikings took the air out of the ball and used up big chunks of the remaining time on the clock and went to the half up 22-18 after Allie Haiby’s only basket of the game completed first half scoring.
Anderson kept pace with Stephenson as each team’s leading scorers went at each other early in the second half to a 26-22 Pelican lead.
Tollefson hit a huge three at the midway point of the second half to put the Vikings up eight points.
Perham would not go away.
The Jackets battled back to tie the game at 32-all with 5:30 to play on another Morris dagger from the arc.
That’s when Stephenson took over the game.
The Pelican junior forward went on her own 7-0 run in a minute of game play.
Tollefson extended the surge with a field goal and Pelican suddenly had the game in hand up 41-32 with four minutes to play.
Defense won out and wore out the rest of the clock sealing a perfect regular season for the Vikings.
“That’s why they’re undefeated,” said Super.
Stephenson led all scorers with 25 points; Tollefson added 13.
Anderson led Perham (16-10) with 13 points. Morris had 12, all from downtown.
“We can make a run in the playoffs if we play defense and rebound like that,” Super said. “The girls committed to an idea and did a great job. I’m really proud of them.”
Pelican’s 25-0 run has the team one win shy of the school record of 26, set last season. The Vikings have won 51 of the last 53 games. The team knows how to win games.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Korf. “These girls have worked hard all season. They’re not going to change that. It’s a new season. We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of good battles.”
The first round of the Section 8AA playoffs opens for both teams Thursday, Feb. 27.
Pelican Rapids 45, Perham 34
PER 18 16 - 34
PEL 22 23 - 45
PER - Sydney Anderson 13, Mya Morris 12, Katie Johnson 4, Willow Thiel 4, Grayce Mickelson 1.
PEL - Anna Stephenson 25, Greta Tollefson 13, Maddie Guler 2, Allie Haiby 2, Ryley Paulson 2, Chloe Paulson 1.