The Perham girls basketball team was hoping to become the first team to defeat Roseau in the past six seasons in the Section 8AA Tournament when they squared off in the quarterfinals at the Memorial Auditorium on Feb. 29.

However, Roseau’s Katie Borowicz had other ideas as the junior finished with 35 points and helped the Rams to a 64-56 victory over the Yellowjackets. The Rams have won the section title the past five seasons and were the Class AA state champion in 2017, while finishing second in 2018 and third in 2019.

Borowicz, who has been offered a scholarship to the University of Minnesota, came up with several key baskets and plays late, holding off a furious Perham rally in the second half.

Roseau's Katie Borowicz uses the screen and drives into the lane against Perham. Borowicz led all scorers with 35 points in Roseau's Section 8AA playoff victory over Perham. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)
Roseau's Katie Borowicz uses the screen and drives into the lane against Perham. Borowicz led all scorers with 35 points in Roseau's Section 8AA playoff victory over Perham. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

Perham head coach TJ Super said he was proud of the girls for their effort in a roller coaster contest.

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“We were down then up and then up and then down. Both teams went on runs and both teams tend to fight back,” Super said. “There were two really good teams out there tonight and a chess match with each other. I was happy with the way our girls executed a lot of the times and proud of the way that they worked hard.”

The Yellowjackets had three players finish in double figures with Sydney Anderson and Katie Johnson ending with 16 points each, while Grayce Mickelson finished with 14 points, before fouling out.

The Yellowjackets had success cutting to the hoop in the first half with Mickelson cutting through the defense. One of the keys to the Yellowjacket offense was trying to keep Borowicz off the ball defensively. However, she was able to make some key plays defensively late on the Yellowjackets’ ball handlers.

“We thought we had really good matchups and Borowicz is a one-man wrecking crew defensively. We kind of took her out and popped her into a corner and that opened up the lane really well for us. Most of the first half, our girls made really good decisions,” Super said. “Throughout the second half, when they went to a man defense, I thought things went well. When they went zone, Borowicz got steals where most girls don’t get steals. As much as you prep, as much as you talk, as much as you watch film, you just can’t prepare physically for that. Girls are able to make passes to that same spot all season, but now you can’t because it’s gone. The way our girls hold the ball and are protecting it against 99.9 percent of the girls but against Borowicz that’s not protecting it and that’s crazy, but that’s the way it goes.”

The Yellowjackets started strong with a 7-2 run to start the game. However, Roseau started to get some shots to drop and eventually took a 22-19 lead after five straight points from Borowicz.

Perham regained the lead after a basket from Johnson and a 3-pointer from Anderson to make it 24-22. It was back-and-forth with Mickelson countering a pair of buckets from Roseau with two of her own. However, Hanna Mooney hit a key 3-pointer giving Roseau the lead at 29-28. It appeared Perham would take the lead into the break after a basket from Johnson. However, a missed 3-pointer turned into an easy putback and lay up for Faith Berger, giving Roseau the 33-32 lead at the half.

Perham's Katie Johnson hits the 3-pointer as Roseau's Julia Braaten closes. Johnson finished with 16 points for Perham. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)
Perham's Katie Johnson hits the 3-pointer as Roseau's Julia Braaten closes. Johnson finished with 16 points for Perham. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

Super said the game didn’t come down to just the play of Borowicz. He said it came down to turnovers and rebounding, which have been issues at times during the season for the Yellowjackets.

“It came down to rebounding. In the first half, I thought we played really well and did everything almost perfectly defensively, except get rebounds. Offensively, we turned it over too much. When we didn’t turn it over, we executed perfectly,” Super said. “Those things are disappointing. It comes down to turnovers and rebounds as it so often does. Our team could have done a better job of that all season and disappointed that’s the way it ended.”’

Roseau grabbed its biggest lead of the game after a basket by Kayla Bachleitner which made it 48-37 early in the second half.

Perham would battle its way back and eventually cut the lead to two points at 58-56 in the last minute. Mickelson sank a pair of free throws, followed by a 3-pointer from Johnson and a bucket from Anderson, cut it to two.

After weaving her way through the Perham defense, Borowicz was fouled and calmly sank two free throws to stretch the lead back to four. Perham came down and put up a 3-pointer that was no good and got the rebound, but the putback attempt was no good as well. Roseau grabbed the rebound and Borowicz sealed the game at the free throw line.

“We had a couple of girls ready to help and they hit a couple of shots out of their corners, which we were willing to give that up. When Borowicz gets into the paint, free and easy and times when there are girls around her, she makes plays. That’s why she is really good,” Super said. “She willed them to a lot of great moments and there were times I thought we did a good job on her. It’s almost embarrassing to look at the scoreboard and see a girl who had 35 points and say we did a good job on her, but the truth is, she is trying to score everytime she has the ball in her hands and it’s hard to contain her.”

Mooney and Bachleiter finished with eight points each for Roseau as well.

The Rams advance and will now play Fergus Falls (24-4) on March 4 at 7:45 p.m. The Otters defeated Park Rapids Area 82-51 to advance. The other semifinal features Hawley (22-5) and Pelican Rapids (27-0). Hawley defeated Menahga 63-56, while Pelican Rapids edged out Crookston 49-44.

The Yellowjackets finish the season with a 17-11 mark overall and graduate Katie Zepper and Grace Minten. Minten missed the season due to an injury. Super praised the seniors for their dedication, including the team managers, which Perham had three senior managers.

“We have three senior managers that are awesome and I don’t know a lot know the value they bring to the team. We use our managers, they rebound for them, play defense and do a lot of our recording when we do stats. They keep me on track most of the time and are a really big part of our team,” Super said. “Minten didn’t get to play in her senior year and what a lesson she provided for our girls. Everyone wants to play and she couldn’t do it, but she was a great teammate and a great student-athlete during her senior year and provided great lessons for the girls. Katie Zepper did a phenomenal job. She hadn’t played a lot of varsity before this year. She came in and worked her butt off during the summer to gain a spot on our varsity team. She did a lot of good things. She bought into a role, played defense, rebounded and was a vocal leader at practice. I’m really proud of her and all of our seniors”

PER 32 23--56

ROS 33 31--64

PER-Katie Zepper 2, Stella Raser 6, Willow Thiel 2, Sydney Anderson 16, Katie Johnson 16, Grayce Mickelson 14

3-pointers: Anderson 3, Johnson 4. Free Throws: 9-14. Team Fouls: 15. Fouled Out: Mickelson

ROS-Hanna Mooney 8, Julia Braaten 7, Faith Berger 2, Katie Borowicz 35, Kayla Bachleiter 8, Shavona Bender 2

3-pointers: Mooney 2, Braaten, Borowicz 2. Free Throws: 9-11. Team Fouls: 14. Fouled Out: None