Late free throws help Perham advance in Section 8AA playoffs

Perham's Grayce Mickelson drives into the lane and kicks it back out to an open teammate as the Breckenridge defense converges on Mickelson during the first half of the Section 8AA first round game in Perham. ( Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

Perham girls basketball head coach TJ Super said defense and rebounding would be key to the Yellowjackets postseason success. The Yellowjackets carried that out with key stops and rebounds in the closing minutes as the Yellowjackets earned a 53-47 victory over the Breckenridge Cowgirls in the Section 8AA girls basketball tournament in Perham.

“I’m really happy with how the girls played and I’m really proud of how they came back,” Super said. “It felt like we just kept taking shots from Breckenridge and we couldn’t pull away. When they climbed up and got a lead on us, they couldn’t pull away from us. I thought both teams played really hard. Our girls executed down the stretch.”

Grayce Mickelson gave the Yellowjackets the lead for good with a drive to the hoop, but Katie Zepper and Katie Johnson extended the lead with key free throws in the closing minutes. The Yellowjackets were eight of eight from the free throw line in the final three minutes of the game, prior to just hitting eight of their 14 attempts in the other 33 minutes of the game.

Sydney Anderson finished with 16 points, while Mickelson added 11 to lead Perham in scoring. Grace Conzemius finished with 16 points for Breckenridge to lead the Cowgirls.

Zepper came up with a few key plays late, including the two free throws for Perham. She was tasked with guarding Jude Held when she was in. Held finished with nine points, all of them in the first half.


“Zepper has been playing really good defense and buying into what we are asking her to do,” Super said. “I think that’s what you want from your girls to just give everything that they got. She has been a great team leader in the locker room. She does a lot of things that fans don’t get to see. She is really important to us. Between her and Lily DeBoer, they did a great job on Jude (Held) who is a great player. They did an awesome job, as well as our team did helping,”

It was a roller coaster contest between the Cowgirls and the Yellowjackets, like the previous meeting in Perham was. Perham grabbed it’s biggest lead at 36-28 after a bucket from Anderson. However, the Cowgirls would rally back, attacking inside with Conzemius. She scored seven straight points for Breckenridge, turning a 41-36 deficit into a 43-41 lead.

“She is a nice player and beat us to some spots. Defensively, we got lost and out of position a couple of times,” Super said. “When she gets to her spot, she is a real good finisher. She has improved a ton over the last year and as a junior, we will have our hands full again next year. In crunchtime when we had to get those stops, I thought Stella (Raser) and Willow (Thiel) did a great job. We had three big rebounds with Stella grabbing one and Willow fought for two of them.”

A pair of Mickelson free throws tied the game at 43, but Breckenridge took a one point lead after a free throw from Conzemius.

Mickelson gave Perham the lead back at 45-44 after she drove to the hoop. Breckenridge had a chance to tie or take the lead but missed a pair of free throws. Zepper was fouled on a cut to the basket and sank both free throws. Johnson followed by sinking both as well for Perham, making it 49-44.

However, Riley Lorenz stepped up and drained a 3-pointer to make it 49-47. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Perham turned the ball over to Breckenridge. Breckenridge had an opportunity but couldn’t get the shot to drop and Perham battled and eventually got the rebound. Perham iced the game with a pair of free throws from Johnson and Mickelson, ensuring the 53-47 win.

The victory improved the Yellowjackets to 17-10. The Yellowjackets will square off with Roseau in the Section 8AA Quarterfinals. The Yellowjackets defeated Roseau 75-65 earlier in the season. The Rams advanced with a 55-30 victory over Thief River Falls and feature Katie Borowicz, who was recently offered a scholarship to play at the University of Minnesota.

“No one has beat them in this tournament for six years,” Super said. “It’s a unique opportunity. This whole section is ridiculous. We knew we would have a crazy stretch and if we want to keep winning we are just going to keep getting teams that are unbelievable. Katie Borowicz is one of the best, if not the best player in Class AA and throughout the entire state. She is a straight up winner and can do so many things that it presents a lot of challenges. We have had a couple of fun games with them at our tournament. The stakes are going to be a little bit higher. We know it’s going to be fun and we know it’s going to be tough.”


In other Section 8AA action, Park Rapids Area used a big second half, scoring 52 points on their way to an 86-75 victory over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton. Fergus Falls started strong and advanced with a 63-42 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek. Crookston used solid defense to edge out East Grand Forks with a 34-28 victory. Pelican Rapids continued its winning ways with their 26th straight win to improve to 26-0 with a 50-39 victory over Barnesville. Menahga held off Frazee 36-30 and Hawley suffocated Warroad with a 68-7 victory.

The Section 8AA quarterfinals begin with Hawley (21-5) taking on Menahga (20-7) at 1 p.m., followed by Pelican Rapids (26-0) and Crookston (21-6) at 2:45 p.m. Fergus Falls (23-4) and Park Rapids Area (13-14) will tip off at 4:30 p.m. and the day comes to a close with Perham (17-10) taking on Roseau (21-6) at 6 p.m. All Section 8AA games will be played at the Memorial Auditorium on the campus of Concordia-Moorhead.

BRK 25 22--47

PER 26 27--53

BRK-Emma Ihland 5, Abby Johnson 3, Riley Lorentz 9, Jude Held 9, Carcie Materi 3, Camryn Kaehler 2, Grace Conzemius 16

3-pointers: Ihland, Johnson, Lorenz 3, Materi. Free Throws: 7-16. Team Fouls: 17. Fouled Out: None

PER-Mya Morris 6, Katie Zepper 2, Lily DeBoer 3, Stella Raser 4, Willow Thiel 4, Sydney Anderson 16, Katie Johnson 7, Grayce Mickelson 11

3-pointers: Morris 2, Anderson 2. Free Throws: 16-22. Team Fouls: 15. Fouled Out: None


Perham's Katie Johnson drives into the lane and attempts a pull up jumper against Breckenridge during the first round of the Section 8AA playoffs. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

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