The Yellowjackets shot out of the gate and never looked back when they capped off a perfect Heart O’ Lakes Conference season with a 75-50 victory over Pelican Rapids at the Hive on Feb. 24.
Finn Diggins led the way with 36 points, becoming the third boys basketball player in Perham history to eclipse the 1,000 point mark for his career. He joins Jenson Beachy and Josh Jeziorski as the only players to do that in Perham boys basketball history.
Elijah Morris added 23 points and Charlie Rasmussen finished with 12 points for Perham in the home win.
“What a start. Our kids were pumped and the energy level was way up and the intensity level on defense was way up,” Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. “You have to give Finn Diggins a lot of credit. He came out of the chutes ready to roll and got us going with the 3-ball. The team just followed after that. The intensity level was good, the energy level was great and our fans were great. It was a great atmosphere for high school basketball.”
While being a premiere facility, the Hive is becoming one of the toughest places to play in Minnesota. The Yellowjackets have rattled off 27 straight wins at the Hive and have won 49 straight games at home overall.
“I definitely think we have one of the toughest places to play,” Diggins said. “We have a beautiful gym, but it’s very hostile to the opponent. We have a great student section, they were almost up to the walking track today and a lot of people were here tonight. It’s a very tough place to play in.”
Cresap said the Hive is a phenomenal place and the team raises its energy level when they are playing at home. The Yellowjackets also posted a perfect 12-0 mark in the Heart O’Lakes Conference, the second year they have gone undefeated in conference play.
“It’s all in the good, young men that we get to coach,” Cresap said. “I try my best to get them prepared and get them ready for everything the other team does. They have to go out and perform and they have done it on our home court. We are undefeated on our home court for two years in a row and undefeated in the conference for two years in a row. These boys have won their fifth straight conference title and they have done some amazing things. You will look back on the legacy they have established and these seniors can walk away and be very proud.”
The Yellowjackets set the tone early with a 9-0 run. Diggins hit from the 3-point line for his first of six 3-pointers in the game, which was followed by a Rasmussen bucket and a pair of drives from Morris.
“Defensively, we brought great energy,” Diggins said. “Offensively things were clicking and shots were falling. It’s great to beat a good team like that, especially by that much. We only beat them by seven or eight points at their place, so this is a great team win with lots of energy.”
Defense was key throughout the game for Perham. They pressued the Pelican Rapids’ offense in the halfcourt and made it tough for them to get good looks at the basket. Most of the Vikings’ success came from Logan Fahje with him backing down the defense in the paint. Fahje finished with 18 points to lead the Vikings.
“We were solid defensively. The ones they got, they backed us down and bullied their way through us and got to the rim. They scored some tough shots,” Cresap said. “We probably gave up two or three easy baskets the whole night. I was so pleased with our defensive effort and to hold them at 50, with some of those coming late, was what we needed to do. Come playoff time, defense is probably going to win the championship, so we have to be there with that because you never know the offensive part.”
Perham stretched the lead to 12 quickly in the first half, but Pelican Rapids was able to cut it down to eight points, before Perham closed on a 9-0 run. Diggins answered a 3-pointer by Logan Petznick with one of his own. He followed with a drive to the bucket, before Rasmussen finished with two straight baskets, giving Perham the 41-24 half time lead.
Pelican Rapids came out of the halftime break strong, cutting the Perham lead down to 10 at 46-36, but could not get any closer. Perham outscored Pelican Rapids 34-25 in the second half, including a nice passing play, which set up Diggins’ 1,000th career point.
Cresap said his senior crew of players were phenomenal in the win. It was the final regular season home game and the seniors were honored prior to the start of the game.
“I could talk about those guys for hours. I’m like their second father and I’ll be there for them the rest of their lives and I hope they know that I care about them,” Cresap said. “They have worked hard and represent our team and our community well.”
The Yellowjackets are now 24-0 and close the regular season with a road trip to Pequot Lakes on Feb. 28 with the tip set for 7:15 p.m.
PEL 25 25--50
PER 41 34--75
PEL-Logan Petznick 6, McHale Korf 9, Justin VerDorn 2, Logan Fahje 18, Liam Sytsma 8, Jayden Rutherford 8
3-pointers: Petznick 2, Fahje 2. Free Throws: 15-18. Team Fouls: 9. Fouled Out: None
PER-Charlie Rasmussen 12, Finn Diggins 36, Gunnar Anderson 4, Elijah Morris 23
3-pointers: Diggins 6, Morris 3. Free Throws: 12-12. Team Fouls: 10. Fouled Out: None
Perham 42, Esko 41
Perham’s Elijah Morris drove to the hoop and drew a foul with the game tied at 41. He sank the first free throw and missed the second. However, the Perham defense came up with the stop as Esko’s last second shot attempt was no good and Perham extended it’s winning streak to 23 with a 42-41 victory over Esko on Feb. 21 in Esko.
The Eskomos were content with playing a slow it down style game against the Yellowjackets, who like to push the tempo. The plan seemed like it was going to work as Esko was able to build up a nine point lead at one point, but Perham eventually battled back and cut the lead down, despite struggling from the free throw line. Perham hit just four of its 13 attempts at the line.
The Yellowjackets trailed 20-19 at the end of the first half, but were able to outscore the Eskomos 23-21 in the second half, securing the road win over the Eskomos.
Morris led the way for Perham with 17 points. Charlie Rasmussen and Finn Diggins finished with 10 points each for the Yellowjackets in the low scoring contest.
Eli Blue and Peyton Wefel finished with 12 points each for Esko, while Riley Fischer ended the game with 11 points.
PER 19 23--42
ESKO 20 21--41
PER-Carter Aakre 1, Charlie Rasmussen 10, Finn Diggins 10, Gunnar Anderson 2, Gabe Thompson 2, Elijah Morris 17
3-pointers: Morris 4. Free Throws: 4-13. Team Fouls: 16. Fouled Out: None
ESKO-Eli Blue 12, Preston Lowe 2, Braden Gabel 1, Cade Berger 3, Peyton Wefel 12, Riley Fischer 11.
3-pointers: Blue 2, Berger, Wefel 2. Free Throws: 4-8. Team Fouls: 14. Fouled Out: None