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Girls basketball: Perham grabs 13th win against Brainerd

The Perham girls basketball team extended their winning streak to six games with a win over the Brainerd on Tuesday night.

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Perham's Cora Grismer goes up for a shot in traffic in the Yellowjackets' 72-58 victory over Brainerd in Perham on Jan. 17, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus
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PERHAM- The Perham girls basketball team had The Hive buzzing in its matchup with Brainerd Tuesday night.

The Yellowjackets secured their sixth-straight win by out-muscling Brainerd to a 72-58 victory. Perham's win extended the Warriors' losing streak to five games.

The Warriors’ length across their roster made things difficult, but the Yellowjackets stayed resilient and found different ways to win.

“It wasn't our best game against a team we are unfamiliar with,” Perham head coach TJ Super said. “They were also a team we probably won’t see like that who has a lot of size across the board. When going up against a bunch of girls who have a lot of length, it makes rebounding harder and everything else harder. They utilized their length really well and created mismatches. This is the one team this year that we are going to play that are like this and I thought we weathered some of the storms they put forward. I thought we had some stretches where we played really well and with high energy. Then we made a bunch of plays down the stretch to win.”

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Perham's Kaia Anderson drives to the bucket between a trio of Warrior defenders in the Yellowjackets' 72-58 victory over Brainerd in Perham on Jan. 17, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

Perham started the first half with four turnovers before Willow Thiel made the game’s first bucket at the 16:30 mark. Brainerd responded with a bucket of their own to tie the game. Then the Yellowjackets blew the game open, rattling off 16 straight points. The Warriors didn't score for six minutes before trailing 33-21 at the half.

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Nearing the end of the second half, a couple of Brainerd free throws cut Perham’s lead to 57-50. The next possession, the Yellowjackets found a wide open Mya Morris, who sank a huge three to bring the lead back to ten.

Kennedy Pilgrim found an easy bucket after a steal, bringing the score to 62-50. Perham finished the game out-scoring Brainerd 16-8.

In the second half, the Warriors came within eight points twice and seven points once, but Perham always had an answer.

“I thought we had some stretches in the second half where we didn’t take the best shots or made the best decisions on offense,” Super said. “When our lead got cut down to eight or seven, it felt like the girls really dug down deep and got a really good shot. We either worked the ball inside or swung it around for a better shot.”

Mya Morris.JPG
Perham's Mya Morris drives to the hoop in the Yellowjackets' 72-58 victory over Brainerd in Perham on Jan. 17, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

The Yellowjackets got some key buckets from some key players down the stretch, which ultimately led to their win.

“Olivia Pilgrim had a wide-open three after a good possession. Mya Morris had a couple big threes when the team needed something good. Kennedy Pilgrim did a really good job at attacking the basket. We didn’t have the best possessions throughout the entire game, but when we needed them we got them,” Super said.

One thing that helped Perham throughout the game was the way Super used his substitutions. Every few minutes he’d take his five starters out of the game and unleash his bench players. The new platoon came in with a different level of intensity on both sides of the ball, making Brainerd’s night difficult.

“We have been building depth throughout the year and we have a lot of really good players,” Super said. “We had nine girls score tonight. We have that depth. They have been playing well, so we wanted to attack Brainerd using the strength of our own players. That second squad did a really good job. They went on a nice run, and brought a lot of really good energy to the game.”

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Thiel had a game high 18 points. Morris was Perham’s second-best scorer with 15 points. She went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc and added nine rebounds to be the Yellowjackets' leading rebounder. Kaia Anderson had 12 points, while Kennedy Pilgrim had 10.

Brainerd’s Mya Tautges and Emma Sheflo led the way for the Warriors with 10 points.

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Perham's Olivia Rosenthal slows things down in the Yellowjackets' 72-58 victory over Brainerd in Perham on Jan. 17, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

Perham improved to 13-1 overall. The Yellowjackets enter the second half of their season with one of the best records in program history.

“It's a really good squad of girls,” Sup said. “The girls have worked a long time for many years to get to this spot. We had a very successful summer. We have a lot of depth and a lot of good players. For us, to keep working and improving has probably been my favorite aspect of this squad. We haven't settled in. Obviously, we are 13-1, but that’s not the goal to be 13-1 and win a lot of games in the regular season. The goal is to win a lot of games in the playoffs. This squad has worked so hard to get to this point and has made this really fun, but it is also fun to see them continuously work hard knowing we have a good team and we have to get better. It definitely feels like we are doing just that.”

PER 33 39- 72

BRD 21 37- 58

PERHAM- Mya Morris: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists; Cora Grismer: 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist; Olivia Rosenthal: 2 rebounds; Kaia Anderson: 12 points, 1 rebound; Greta Raser: 2 points; Lily Aakre: 3 rebounds; Kennedy Pilgrim: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist; Olivia Pilgrim: 7 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists; Kaia Starzl: 2 points; Willow Thiel: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists; Cate Diggins: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists; Ryleigh Mickelson: 2 rebounds

BRAINERD- Kate Stadum: 7 points, Kylee Soens: 8 points, Emma Sheflo: 10 points, Mya Tautges: 10 points, Ana Bjorklund: 3 points, Brook Sandberg: 5 points, Karley Dunham: 7 points, AJ Johnson: 6 points, Addison Bjorklund: 2 points

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