Unlike their Section 8AA first round game against Frazee, the Perham Yellowjackets did not get off to a blistering start in the first half. Thief River Falls threw several different looks at Perham and the Yellowjackets struggled to get the shots to drop.
However, that changed after the half and Perham exploded for a 65-41 victory in the Section 8AA quarterfinals at Concordia on March. 7.
“It was a slow start. They were running that junk defense and we missed open shots. We were ready for it and got the shots that we wanted. The kids that got them, just didn’t knock them down,” Cresap said. “We came into the locker room and talked about it. We were going to come out in the second half and be ready to knock shots down and we did. We were really, really solid defensively. Our post defense was outstanding. They didn’t get the ball into the block like they did at our place. We allowed 41 points and that’s pretty hard to do in high school basketball in this round of the playoffs.”
Finn Diggins finished with 21 points, 12 of them coming in the second half. Elijah Morris poured in 13 points, while Charlie Rasmussen added nine.
For the second straight game, Perham received some key minutes from their bench with Gabe Thompson and Grant McMartin.
“The biggest lift we got was from a couple of guys. We had Landon Stevens hit a big 3-pointer in the second half. Gabe Thompson came in and gave us great minutes,” Cresap said. “Another player is Grant McMartin, he came in and did a superb job with Gunnar (Anderson) and Carter (Aakre) under the weather with the flu. They are struggling, and we have to get them healthy the next few days. It comes down to being a team effort.”
The 3-pointer by Stevens sparked a 15-2 run in the second half and seemed to take the energy and the wind out of the Prowlers sails. The Yellowjackets clamped down and held the Prowlers to 26 second half points, many of them coming late in the game on some 3-pointers.
“They didn’t score much until late in the game or that would have been in the low 30’s. They hit a couple, but defensively, we were solid most of the second half and most of the first half,” Cresap said. “We gave up a couple, but overall I’m happy with the effort, especially playing a physical and messy kind of game. We kept our heads in it, rebounded really well and at times, took over on offense.”
The Yellowjackets maintained control and valued the ball in a physical style game. They committed just nine turnovers on offense. They finished with 13 assists.
“We hardly turned the ball over, and you do that in high school basketball, you are going to be around and then you defend and rebound, it’s going to take a good team to beat you,” Cresap said. “We have to play better. We have to be more crisp on offense, but we were better in that second half. We forced them to go to man and if we get our guys healthy, we will be ready to go on Wednesday night.”
Thief River Falls jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, playing a methodical style of basketball. However, Perham responded with an 8-0 run to take a 10-7 lead. Thief River Falls tied the game on a 3-pointer by Jack Manning at 10. Diggins gave Perham a 12-10 lead before Gunnar Aune tied it at 12. It would be the last time the two teams were tied in the game. Diggins hit a 3-pointer, followed by a deep two from Morris to make it 17-12. Morris followed with another basket to make it 19-14. Perham eventually stretched the lead to 24-15 at the half.
Thief River Falls cut it down to six early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Brevyn Lingen. However, Perham answered with a 3-pointer by Stevens, which sparked the second half surge for Perham. Diggins followed with an old-fashioned 3-point play and McMartin hit a 3-pointer, giving Perham a 38-23 lead early in the second half. Perham continued to expand the lead on the Prowlers, earning the 24 point win.
Gunner Zutz finished with 15 points for the Prowlers, while Storm Manning added eight and Jack Manning finished with seven.
Perham improved its season record to 27-0 and will take on East Grand Forks (26-2) in the Section 8AA semifinals on March 11. The Green Wave defeated Barnesville 56-49. The Green Wave closed on a 20-4 run after trailing 45-36 late in the second half.
“They are loaded with athletes and really athletic. I feel bad for Barnesville, leading 45-36 late and getting beat,” Cresap said. “They (EGF) are 26-2 for a reason. They are going to come and get us. They are the No. 1 seed over there and we are the No. 2 seed. It’s one against two, and we will see how much grit we got going into that one. It’s going to be a great game. We wanted to get to the semifinal game for sure, and we got there. Now, we have to go do our business.”
The two teams tip-off at 6 p.m. in the first game of the two semifinals at Concordia on March 11.
TRF 15 26--41
PER 24 41--65
TRF- Gunner Zutz 15, Brevyn Lingen 6, Anthony Hyland 2, Gunnar Aune 3, Storm Manning 8, Jack Manning 7
3-pointers:Zutz 3, Lingen 2, S. Manning 1, J. Manning 1. Free Throws: 2-5. Team Fouls: 14. Fouled Out: None
PER-Charlie Rasmussen 9, Finn Diggins 21, Grant McMartin 5, Landon Stevens 3, Gavin Hillukka 2, Gunnar Anderson 5, Gabe Thompson 7, Elijah Morris 13
3-pointers: Diggins 2, McMartin, Stevens, Anderson, Thompson. Free Throws: 11-17. Team Fouls: 11. Fouled Out: None