Boys basketball: Depth shines in Perham's hard-earned win over Fergus Falls
The Perham boys basketball had to earn its way back into the win column with a hard-fought 63-59 victory over Fergus Falls at Breakdown's Crossover Classic on Saturday night.
PERHAM – The Perham boys basketball team had to earn its way back into the win column on Saturday night.
The Yellowjackets capped off Breakdown’s Crossover Classic with a 63-59 win over Fergus Falls. It was a game that tested Perham’s depth against a pointed Otters team led by star point guard Henry Bethel.
Fergus Falls jumped out to a 17-9 lead in the first half. Bethel hit three shots from beyond the arc and a hard-fought layup, challenging the Yellowjackets defensively. Just as Perham started to claw its way back, seniors Micah Thompson and Soren Anderson left the game with foul trouble in the back end of the first half.
Without their two leading scorers, the Yellowjackets’ depth stepped up. Noah Thompson, Blaiz Schmidt, Gage Aanenson and Mason Happel all played in the final six minutes of the first half.
“I want to compliment our bench players,” senior Alex Ohm said. “A lot of times, they don’t get a ton of reps in games. They came out today and were ready to hold down the fort when Micah and Soren were out. We were able to keep playing them solid and give ourselves a chance in the second half to capitalize. I’m so proud of our bench players. They have a lot of games where they won’t get any minutes at all. Truthfully, they won us this game.”
Being a reserve player for Perham doesn’t come with guaranteed playing time. Ohm, who came off the bench his first three seasons, knows that better than anybody.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s a hard thing to do, coming in after not playing for a few games,” Ohm said. “Every day in practice, they’re able to go up against us. We have some battles in practice. We have a lot more depth than people give us credit for.”
Perham went into halftime trailing 30-25. Jacob Daniels’ eight points helped keep the Jackets within reach by the time Anderson and Thompson got back on the floor.
The second half was a bruising battle. Thompson finished with a team-high 21 points. He went toe-to-toe with Bethel on both ends of the floor, who finished with a game-high 26 points. Ohm also had a chance to mirror the Otters’ dynamic guard.
“He’s a nice player,” Ohm said. “He’s really good at getting downhill and playing off two feet. He’s able to draw, help and score really well. At the end of the day, we were able to pull this one out because of our help defense on him. I thought our recovery was really good tonight.”
Perham tied the game on Ohm’s three with 10:15 left in the second half. Thompson converted a hard-earned layup a minute later to give the Jackets their first lead. After Fergus Falls regained a one-possession advantage, Ohm delivered the big shot the Yellowjackets had been searching for all night.
Ohm knocked down a three and drew a foul as he fell into the laps of the Perham bench players. His ensuing free throw gave the Yellowjackets a 55-53 lead with 4:30 left.
“It had been a long time in the making tonight,” Ohm said of getting over the hump with a big play. “Micah nails kids with those screens. He hits those kids hard. To be able to knock one down for him after he made so many unselfish plays, it was a good feeling for all of us. We never looked back from there.”
The Yellowjackets didn’t trail the rest of the night. They also hit 21-of-27 free throws, including Ohm’s perfect 11-for-11 night at the line. Closing out wins was a struggle for this group at times during the 2021-22 season, but now it looks like a strength.
“I think that comes with experience,” Ohm said. “I played four years of varsity basketball. Micah, Jacob and Soren have all played three. We have more experience than anybody could ever ask for. At some point, you just have to think you’ll figure out those end-of-game situations. It’s starting to click for us.”
Fergus Falls played better than its 4-6 record would indicate. After Perham’s 56-55 overtime loss against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on Thursday night, the Crossover Classic was a chance to get back on track against a team hungry for an upset over the No. 6 team in Class 2A.
“We hate losing because it doesn’t happen very often,” Ohm said. “It’s always good to come right back and get another win against a good team.”