Starting fast at home is nothing new for the Perham boys basketball team. However, the response from the opposition was something out of the ordinary. Perham raced out to a 19-3 lead in the first half, only to watch as the Frazee Hornets rallied to cut the lead to three. However, a bigger run to start the second half secured Perham’s spot in the Section 8AA Quarterfinals when they earned an 86-57 victory over the Frazee Hornets at the Hive on March 5.
Charlie Rasmussen led three players in double figures with 24 points. Finn Diggins added 22 points, while Grant McMartin poured in 14 points for the Yellowjackets in their 28th straight win at the Hive and 50th straight home win overall.
Perham head coach Dave Cresap said the start of the game and the start of the second half was pretty special. Perham started the second half with a 23-3 run, ending any thought of a Frazee upset. As good as the start was, Frazee rallied back and put the Yellowjackets on their heels. Cresap said it was a stretch the Yellowjackets were lethargic.
“Give them credit, we left them open and they made shots,” Cresap said. “That stretch was as bad as we have played all year-long. We had a talk in the locker room and got some things straightened out with intensity. That second half we came out and it was a blur. They went 11 minutes and 40 seconds scoring only three points. That’s what we have to do defensively. Overall, I’m very, very pleased but as we approach the next round, we have to be better than we were.”
Rasmussen set the tone in the first half, getting to the basket and hitting the mid-range jump shot. He scored 12 of his 24 points in the early minutes of the first half as Perham built up a 21-5 lead. Rasmussen recorded the double-double as well, grabbing 10 rebounds and dished out four assists.
“He (Rasmussen) is a special young man, being sick most of the week and giving the effort he did tonight,” Cresap said. “He has done so much to bring this program to another level. Truthfully, I think he is the most improved player in our whole section this year. We talked about it at the HOL meeting that he is one of the best, most improved kids that has come out of this program.”
However, The Hornets outscored the Yellowjackets 29-19 after the quick start for Perham. One of the keys was the intensity ramped up for the Hornets and they were able to get their shots to drop. Broden Fleisher and Jack Courneya finished with 14 points each to lead the way for Frazee, while Cole Fleisher added 13. Frazee hit six 3-pointers in the first half with Cole Fleisher hitting three of them.
Frazee cut the Perham lead down to three points with six straight points and had the Hornet faithful surging to their feet. Cresap decided to let things play out instead of calling a time out. He said his team needs to play through some of that adversity.
“We had to find a way that they could go out on the floor and do it on their own. I’m sure everyone was panicking and thought we needed to call a timeout, but sometimes you have to let those kids play through that and learn how to do it. We haven’t been in that spot quite often,” Cresap said. “It was a good learning thing and then we came out in the second half and took care of business. One more basket, you would have seen a time out, but we let that go and made sure they could ride through that one.”
Landon Stevens hit a 3-pointer to open the second half floodgates for Perham. Diggins and Rasmussen each followed with a pair of baskets and Frazee quickly called time out. Diggins scored six of the game’s next eight points, which was followed by 3-pointers from Morris and Gabe Thompson to make it 59-37. McMartin helped Perham extend the lead as well, connecting for three 3-pointers in the second half. He hit four of them for the game.
Cresap said it was superior to get the minutes and key contributions of the bench from Thompson and McMartin, in the win.
“In the playoff run, we are going to need some guys coming off (the bench),” Cresap said. “We have some other guys who are ready if we need them. The thing about the playoffs is that we can use everyone on the bench and that is going to be important down the stretch.”
The Yellowjackets outscored the Hornets 46-23 in the second half, earning their 26th win of the season.
Frazee’s season comes to an end with a 10-15 record overall. Perham improved to 26-0 and will take on Thief River Falls. The Prowlers defeated Hawley, 72-65. In its only meeting, Perham defeated Thief River Falls 57-49. The two teams tip-off at 2:45 p.m. on March 7 at Concordia’s Memorial Auditorium.
FRA 34 23--57
PER 40 46--86
FRZ- Jack Courneya 14, Justin Courneya 3, Nathan Johannsen 4, Cole Fleisher 13, Broden Fleisher 14, Reid Eckert 9
3-pointers: Ja. Courneya 2, Ju. Courneya, C. Fleisher 3, B. Fleisher, Eckert. Free Throws: 3-6. Team Fouls: 9 Fouled Out: None
PER-Charlie Rasmussen 24, Finn Diggins 22, Grant McMartin 14, Landon Stevens 8, Gavin Hillukka 2, Gunnar Anderson 6, Gabe Thompson 4, Elijah Morris 6
3-pointers: Diggins 2, McMartin 4, Stevens 2, Thompson, Morris 2. Free Throws: 13-16. Team Fouls: 12 Fouled Out: None