Girls basketball: Perham falls short against No. 3 Albany in quarterfinals of state tournament
The Perham girls basketball team only had four players score in its loss to Albany in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament on Wednesday night.
MINNEAPOLIS – After a three-decade-long drought, the Perham girls basketball team competed in the Class AA state tournament going head-to-head with No. 3 Albany.
After a hard-fought 36 minutes, the Huskies walked away 51-38 victors and punched their ticket to the semifinals.
Before tip-off, senior Mya Morris and her teammates felt the pregame butterflies in their stomachs.
“We were nervous but also excited at the same time,” Morris said. “It’s our first time here at state, so we wanted to work as hard as we could while having fun with it.”
In the first half, the Yellowjackets grabbed their only lead of the contest at the 15:41 mark up 5-4. Perham stayed ahead for only 17 seconds before Albany regained the lead. Heading into the locker room, the Huskies held a 26-18 lead.
“I was a little frustrated in the first half defensively,” Perham head coach TJ Super said. “I thought we had some breakdowns and some turnovers that were unforced and not like us. I thought we went for balls when we should’ve gotten back on defense. Those are few and far between but being down by eight at the half against a team like Albany is a big difference.”
Four minutes into the second half, Albany extended its lead to 34-21. Eight minutes later, the Huskies grabbed their biggest lead of the game at 45-27. Over the next four minutes, Perham made an 11-4 run led by three Morris 3-pointers to cut the lead to 49-38. The Yellowjackets were held scoreless for the rest of regulation.
While trying to stay in the game with Albany pulling late, the Yellowjackets needed to take a breather and assess their situation.
“I think we tried to slow it down, look at the positives and play hard defense,” Perham’s Willow Thiel said. “If our shots weren’t falling, we wanted to keep them scoreless and hopefully our defense will feed into our offense.”
“In the second half, it is just hard to get back into it,” Super said. “We went on some runs and they went on some runs. Offensively, we wanted to string some shots together and Mya went off for a little bit, but too little too late.”
Thiel and Morris finished as the only two Perham players to score in double figures. Thiel had a game-high 18 and Morris had 15 to combine for 33 of the Yellowjackets' 38 points. Kaia Anderson ended the night with three points and Kennedy Pilgrim finished with two. Super had high praises for his top two scorers in the game.
“They are our leaders on the team,” he said. “The girls talk about Mya and Willow as our two leaders on the court. They have led us to a lot of really good things this year and it's been a lot of fun having them out there.”
Albany had seven different players score and three different players finish with double-digit points. Kylan Gerads and Alyssa Sand both ended their nights with 14 points. Tatum Findley finished with 11 points. Sand added seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
Representing Perham at the state tournament for the first time since 1991 was a real privilege. Super had wise words for his players before the game to remind them why they play.
“It’s like what I told the girls before the game,” he said. “There are a lot of little girls out in the crowd that are looking on the court seeing something they haven’t seen from a Perham girls basketball team before. Our girls, when they were younger, never got to see that. What my team is doing is something special. I thought the girls competed really well. Obviously, the outcome isn’t what we were looking for but the girls worked their butts off. They showed that they belonged on this stage.”
PER 18 20- 38
ALB 26 25- 51
PERHAM TEAM STATS- 12-40 (30%) FGA, 6-22 (27%) 3PA, 8-11 (73%) FTA, 26 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, 18 turnovers
ALBANY TEAM STATS- 19-46 (41%) FGA, 2-8 (25%) 3PA, 11-13 (84%) FTA, 25 rebounds, 11 assists, 9 steals, 3 blocks, 10 turnovers
PERHAM- Mya Morris: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal; Kennedy Pilgrim: 2 points, 1 rebound; Willow Thiel: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist; Kaia Anderson: 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist; Olivia Pilgrim: 2 rebounds, 4 assists; Olivia Rosenthal: 4 rebounds, 1 assist; Cora Grismer: 1 rebound, 1 assist; Cate Diggins: 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Ryleigh Mickelson: 2 rebounds, 1 assist
ALBANY- Alyssa Sand: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks; Tatum Findley: 11 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal; Savanna Pelzer: 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; Kylan Gerads: 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals; Eva Schwenzfeier: 3 points, 1 rebound; Callie Holthaus: 3 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Natalie Blonigen: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Samantha Van Heel: 3 rebounds