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Girls basketball: Perham rolls over Pelican Rapids on Junior Jacket night

The Perham girls basketball team extended its winning streak to 11 games against Pelicans Rapids. The Jackets also celebrated Junior Jacket Night at The Hive.

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Perham's Ryleigh Mickelson passes the ball out to Kaia Anderson after being stopped by a couple of Pelican Rapids' defenders in the Yellowjackets' 67-48 victory over the Vikings at Perham on Feb. 2, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

PERHAM – No one in Section 8-2A or the Heart O’Lakes Conference can slow down the Perham girls basketball team right now.

The No. 7 Yellowjackets(18-1) defeated No. 17 Pelicans Rapids (15-4) 67-48 to secure a regular season series sweep and extend their winning streak to 11 games.

“I thought the girls came out with some good intensity.” Perham head coach TJ Super said. “Pelican Rapids has some really good players. As a team, they are going to play some really good defense. I thought we did a really good job on offense swinging the ball around. I thought we were patient in the first half and got a lot of really good looks. Defensively, Pelican got a little bit too much in the paint in the first half, but overall, it was a really good start to the game.”

The Vikings started off the game by scoring the first five points. Two Willow Thiel free throws, a Mya Morris 3-pointer, and a Thiel 3-point jumper quickly put the Yellowjackets up 8-5.

After Pelican Rapids tied the game, Perham went on an 11-0 run to put itself up 19-8. The Yellowjackets finished out the half outscoring the Vikings 18-14, heading into the locker room with a 37-22 lead.

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The second half was no different. The Vikings were unable to pull within single digits over the final 18 minutes.

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Perhma's Cora Grismer races up the court in the Yellowjackets' 67-48 victory over Pelican Rapids at Perham on Feb. 2, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

“In the second half, I thought we were a little quick with our shots,” Super said. “When you are up 15-18 points, we could try to take some more time off the clock. It is not necessarily who we are as a team, but we have to adjust a little bit. It was nice when we struggled a little bit in the second half and were able to come right back and play some really good ball.”

Before entering the Thursday night matchup, Super thought his team’s defense was a bit lackluster in their last couple of matchups.

“I feel like our defensive effort has been a little bit relaxed to almost a defensive slump, you could say,” he said. “This week, we have been really good so far. We were really good with our feet, hands, positioning, talking and clearing defensive rebounds. Then, when you put all those pieces together, you are pretty good defensively.”

Thiel had another monster performance. While being doubled, and even tripled-teamed, she finished with a game-high 27 points and secured another double-double with 14 rebounds.

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Perham's Willow Thiel jumps above a couple of Pelican Rapids' defenders in the Yellowjackets' 67-48 victory over the Vikings at Perham on Feb. 2, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

“She is a really good basketball player,” he said. “It makes a lot of stuff easier for us. She worked really hard to get the position down low. She keeps piling these dominant performances together, but it really shows how good the other girls are at looking for her. Pelican Rapids was in a 2-3 zone, and we still were pounding inside getting Willow touches. Then, in the second half, they were bailing and leaving three-point shooters open.”

Morris finished shooting 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and was the game’s second-leading scorer with 17 points. Freshman Kaia Anderson ended her night with seven points, two assists, four rebounds and two steals.

Thursday night was about more than just the high school-level players. The Perham girls basketball team celebrated Junior Jacket night for youth girls hoopsters of all ages.

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“Every girl in the Perham girls basketball program was invited to come take their picture with the varsity girls, get a prize, join in on the national anthem and starting lineups and take a program picture,” Super said. “Overall, there were over 100 girls in the picture, and more running around. Everyone was invited to grab a free poster and get it autographed after the game, too.”

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Perham's Olivia Rosenthal get in position for the inbound pass in the Yellowjackets' 67-48 victory over Pelican Rapids at Perham on Feb. 2, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

The Yellowjackets haven’t lost a game in a little over a month. The past 11 games have been a roller coaster ride, but it’s been “the next girl up” mentality that has kept Perham so dominant in the month of January.

“The good part about this 11-game stretch is that we haven’t been amazing at all times,” Super said. “We have had our ups and downs, and even in our downs, we have been able to pull out wins. … The thing that makes us really tough and is really fun to coach is that if one girl is not on, then another is, and we aren't really dependent on one single girl. Mya and Willow are really good scorers and great offensive players, but if teams are taking them away, other girls are willing and ready to step up. Our girls can knock down shots, drive and score, and we have girls off the bench that can do the same. So it makes us really difficult to defend and when other teams have to adjust, then it opens up those other players.”

PER 37 30- 67

PR 22 26- 48

PERHAM- Mya Morris: 17 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Cora Grismer: 3 points 3 rebounds; Olivia Rosenthal: 2 points; Kaia Anderson: 7 points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals; Kennedy Pilgrim: 2 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound; Olivia Pilgrim: 3 points, 3 assists, 2 steals; Willow Thiel: 27 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist; Cate Diggins: 4 points, 3 rebounds; Ryleigh Mickelson: 2 points, 2 rebounds

PELICAN RAPIDS SCORING- Chelsie Isaman 6, Hazel Haugrud 10, Morgan Korf 15, Arianna Hovland 2, Grace Backstrom 4, Zayli Arrow 2, Zayla Arrow 2, Anna Roisum 2, Ellie Welch 5

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The Perham girls basketball team and some of their youngest fans are all smiles for Junior Jacket Night at Perham on Feb. 2, 2023.
Contributed / Perham-Dent Public Schools
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Perham's Cora Grismer and Kaia Anderson smile for the camera as they sign team photos for their youngest fans at Junior Jacket night on Feb. 2, 2023.
Contributed / Perham-Dent Public Schools
Mya Morris.JPG
Perham's Mya Morris and her teammates sign autographs for some of their biggest supporters at Junior Jacket night on Feb. 2, 2023.
Contributed / Perham-Dent Public Schools

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