The Perham and Wadena-Deer Creek boys basketball teams are set and ready to go for the 2020 Section 8AA Boys Basketball Tournament which kicks off on March 5 at various locations.
The Wolverines earned the No. 6 seed and will open with Pelican Rapids, who earned the No. 3 seed, while Perham earned the No. 2 seed and will take on Frazee, who captured the No. 2 seed.
Perham head coach Dave Cresap said the section is as good as it has been from top to bottom in the past 10 years.
“I think there are five or six teams that could win it and a couple of others that could knock off a good team and send them home, but not be able to win the thing and play four games in a row,” Cresap said. “There are going to be some interesting match ups all the way down.”
The Wolverines (16-10) closed the season with a victory over Verndale and will hope to avenge an earlier season defeat to Pelican Rapids (18-8) when the two teams square off on March 5 in Pelican Rapids.
The Vikings defeated Wadena-Deer Creek 74-57 on Jan. 3. The Vikings used a dominant first half and built up a 42-22 lead in the victory. The Vikings had four players in double figures in the win, while Payton Rondestvedt and Cooper Folkestad led the Wolverines with 17 and 14 points apiece.
Wadena-Deer Creek head coach Kevin Tumberg said the Wolverines are excited for the playoffs.
“Outside of tonight (against Verndale), we have played great basketball of late,” Tumberg said. “We have played some really good teams and played them really well. We are excited. We are going to get Pelican Rapids at their place and we lost to them by double digits. Against Pelican Rapids, which was right after Christmas break, in our opinion we didn’t play very well and it was a 17 point game. We are excited about the match up and excited to get to the section tournament.”
Tumberg said the keys for the Wolverines will be their ability to value the basketball. He said they have to limit their turnovers.
“If we have turnover after turnover, we are going to be in trouble,” Tumberg said. “Defensively, we have a lot of guys on our team who can shoot and put the ball in the hole, but we don’t necessarily have the guys that can stop everybody. We have to make sure we can defend in the tournament and if we can’t, we will be in trouble.”
The Yellowjackets will open with the Frazee Hornets, a team Perham blasted 80-49 in its first meeting. The Yellowjackets were led by Finn Diggins and his team-high of 34 points. Elijah Morris finished with 15 and Charlie Rasmussen added 12. Cresap said Frazee will be a formidable opponent because of their ability to score.
“We have to come out defensively and rebound,” Cresap said. “We have to take care of business on that end and we have to see if our shots come in. Playoff time brings about scary things as far as offensively. You have to be consistent on the defensive end.”
Cresap said opening up home is huge for the team. He said the Hive provides a home court advantage for the Yellowjackets.
“We have to take it one possession at a time,” Cresap said. “(We have to see) if we can get a lot of stops and a lot of scores. If we do that, we are going to be pretty solid. The kids have played well lately and we have to keep that confidence level up.”
Cresap said offensively the Yellowjackets will need to shoot the ball well. He said another key is establishing Finn Diggins in the low block. However, he said the main key will be their play on the defensive end. Cresap said the teams that usually make the finals are strong on defense.
Section 8AA features several unique first round contests throughout the section. East Grand Forks (24-2) earned the No. 1 seed in the North and will open with Roseau (7-20). Roseau defeated Park Rapids Area 64-45 to advance to the tournament. Barnesville (16-9) earned the No. 4 seed in the south and will take on Breckenridge (13-13) in the first round.
Perham (25-0) earned the No. 2 seed in the south and opens with Frazee (10-14). Thief River Falls (12-13) earned the No. 3 seed in the North and opens with Hawley (5-18). EGF/Roseau winner will play the Barnesville/Breckenridge winner at 1 p.m. on March 7 at Concordia, while the Perham/Frazee winner will play the TRF/Hawley winner at 2:45 p.m. at Concordia.
Fergus Falls (22-4) earned the No. 1 seed in the south and will take on Menahga (13-14). Warroad (16-10) earned the No. 4 seed in the north and will take on Bagley (11-15). Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (20-6) earned the No. 2 seed in the North and hosts Crookston (9-17). Pelican Rapids (18-8) earned the No. 3 seed and hosts Wadena-Deer Creek (16-10). The Fergus Falls/Menahga winner will take on the Warroad/Bagley winner at 4:30 p.m. on March 7 in Concordia, while the DGF/Crookston winner takes on the Pelican Rapids/WDC winner at 6:15 p.m. on March 7.