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Girls basketball: Perham completes second half comeback in win over Crosby-Ironton to keep season alive

The Perham girls basketball team wasn’t bothered being down by seven coming out of halftime against Crosby-Ironton in the state consolation game on Thursday night.

Cora Grismer (2).JPG
Perham's Cora Grismer drives the baseline in the Yellowjackets' 56-50 victory over Crosby-Ironton in the consolation bracket of the Class AA state tournament at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul on March 16, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

ST. PAUL – March basketball has provided some spectacular moments come tourney time. The Perham girls basketball team fit that narrative in its second half comeback thriller over Crosby-Ironton in the semifinals of the consolation bracket in the Class AA state tournament on Thursday night.

The Yellowjackets found themselves in a hole after the first half, but some second half magic secured a 56-50 victory over the Rangers. Perham has now won a school-record 27 games in a season and will look to add one more in the consolation championship game against New London-Spicer.

“I am really proud of the girls,” Perham head coach TJ Super said. “We got off to such a bad start. Sometimes you are behind so much that you have to fight so hard to get back into it, and you begin to lose energy or can't quite get over the hump. This time we did. We didn’t change anything defensively. We just went back to being who we were. Then we rebounded really well in the second half, and the girls made some really big shots and free throws down the stretch.”

“In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a little close there,” sophomore Cora Grismer said. “Then our team kept going, never lost our energy, and fought till the very end.”

Willow Thiel 3.JPG
Perham's Willow Thiel goes up for a contested jumper in the Yellowjackets' 56-50 victory over Crosby-Ironton in the consolation bracket of the Class AA state tournament at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul on March 16, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

Senior Willow Thiel got the scoring started with an easy two. Crosby-Ironton responded with a 13-1 run to take a 13-3 lead just five minutes into the first half. The Yellowjackets outscored the Rangers 21-18 the rest of the way but went into the intermission down 31-24.

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Perham started the second half with five straight turnovers and the Rangers extended their lead to 35-24. Super took a timeout and had to remind his team to continue fighting.

“It was just a mindset that we weren’t going to allow Crosby-Ironton to continue what they were doing,” he said. “We definitely had to start hitting the boards a lot harder. They were on fire and are a really good shooting team. They were coming off of screens hitting threes in our face and sinking NBA-length threes. They weren’t going to keep doing that and if they were, then we were going to lose that game.”

Perham huddle.JPG
Perham during a timeout listening to the wise words of head coach TJ Super in the Yellowjackets' 56-50 victory over Crosby-Ironton in the consolation bracket of the Class AA state tournament at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul on March 16, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

Crosby-Ironton began to cool off and the Yellowjackets slowly clawed their way back into the game. Thiel hit two free throws with 6:54 left in regulation to bring Perham within one at 42-41. A few possessions later, Grismer hit a three and the Yellowjackets took their first lead since the first basket of the game at 44-42.

In the final two minutes, Perham hit 8-of-11 from the charity stripe. Senior Mya Morris went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in that span. Perham outscored the Rangers 32-19 in the second half.

Grismer credited her team’s will to win as giving them the confidence to continue the fight and come out on top..

“We didn’t want to lose this game,” she said. “We wanted to do it for our team and everyone involved. We mustered up the energy to do it and we did it.”

But it was Grismer’s second half performance that was a major factor in the comeback. She scored 13 of her team-high 17 points in the half. Super praised his sophomore guard’s play, which was a confidence boost for the Yellowjackets.

Mya Morris.JPG
Perham's Mya Morris goes up for a three-point attempt over a Crosby-Ironton defending in the Yellowjackets' 56-50 victory over the Rebels in the consolation bracket of the Class AA state tournament at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul on March 16, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

“She was really good tonight,” he said. “We were struggling against the zone. She was doing a really good job at getting in the middle of zone and attacking the basket. That was something we needed out of our team tonight and she did a great job. She also knocked down a couple of big shots.”

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A performance like Grismer’s was nothing new to this Perham team. The Yellowjackets’ depth was a major contributing factor their regular season success.

“This has been the team all season,” Super said. “We have been deep. It’s not just a one- or two-man team. We have a whole bunch of really talented players and tonight was her night to be really good. I'm really proud of her.”

Thiel ended the game with 15 points and 12 rebounds to secure the double-double. Morris had 11 points. Between Thiel, Morris and Grismer, they combined for 43 of Perham’s 56 points.

Ryleigh Mickelson.JPG
Perham's Ryleigh Mickelson brings the pressures in the Yellowjackets' 56-50 victory over Crosby-Ironton in the consolation bracket of the Class AA state tournament at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul on March 16, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

Crosby-Ironton’s Tori Oehrlein finished with a game-high 28 points. She was just one of four Rangers to score in the game. Oehrlein scored 15 of the Rangers' 19 second half points.

The win kept the Yellowjackets’ season alive.

“It feels really good,” Super said. “I told the girls that there are three things that are really great about tonight. One, it's our first state tournament win. Two, we broke the school record with 27 wins for girls basketball. Third, we get to do this again. Every time we talked about this moment it was either going to be our last or one more. I am really happy to be able to get one more game in because this a great group of girls to be around.”

PER 24 32- 56

C-I 31 19- 50

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PERHAM- Cora Grismer: 17 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal; Willow Thiel 15 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist; Mya Morris: 11 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist; Kaia Anderson: 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Kennedy Pilgrim: 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists; Olivia Pilgrim: 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists; Olivia Rosenthal: 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal; Cate Diggins: 1 rebound; Ryleigh Mickelson: 3 rebounds, 2 steals

CROSBY-IRONTON SCORING- Hannah Compton 13, Margaret Silgren 9, Samantha Hachey 2, Tori Oehrlein 28

Perham inbound play.JPG
Perham's Mya Morris inbounds the ball as her teammates run an inbound play in the Yellowjackets' 56-50 victory over Crosby-Ironton in the consolation bracket of the Class AA state tournament at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul on March 16, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus
Olivia Rosenthal.JPG
Perham's Olivia Rosenthal passes the rock in the Yellowjackets' 56-50 victory over Crosby-Ironton in the consolation bracket of the Class AA state tournament at the Ganglehoff Center in St. Paul on March 16, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

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