Girls basketball: Yellowjackets fall to Class AA’s top-ranked team Providence Academy

The Perham girls basketball team got handed its third loss of the season by Providence Academy on Saturday afternoon.

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Perham's Willow Thiel goes up for a contested lay-up in the Yellowjackets' 96-65 loss to Providence Academy at Perham on Feb. 25, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

PERHAM – Some of the best Class AA has to offer slugged it out on Saturday afternoon at the Hive in front of a buzzing crowd.

The Perham girls basketball team (22-3) welcomed the Lions of Providence Academy (23-2). The Lions entered the matchup as the top-ranked team in the class and winners of 22 straight games. The Yellowjackets were ranked as the 9th best team in the class.

Providence Academy proved why it’s one of the best teams in the state and trounced Perham 96-65.

“Providence Academy is a really good team and we knew that coming into the game,” Perham head coach TJ Super said. “We had a goal of going and competing with them straight up and see what happens. They are number one and defending state champs for a reason and probably the best team in Minnesota regardless of class. I thought we fell into the trap that they are” the big bad Providence, the best team in the state”. I felt like we didn’t play to our capabilities in the first half. After halftime, we calmed down, played better and played our style of basketball. We cut our turnovers in half. Our second-half defense was a little bit better. Overall, you get a team like this in the gym and you get to compete against them, you become a better team.”

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Perham's Cora Grismer about to shoot a free throw in the Yellowjackets' 96-65 loss to Providence Academy at Perham on Feb. 25, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

Heading into the matchup, Super saw his team wasn’t too rattled to go up against a powerhouse like Providence Academy.


“I wouldn’t call it nerves but more excitement getting ready to play the game,” he said. “I would say it was the pressure of playing a game like this more than anything. Providence is really fast and really strong and can shoot it really well. They do everything a little bit better than anyone we have played this season. I thought that took us out of our game a little bit, but I wouldn’t say we were nervous.”

Perham struck first with an easy lay-up by Kennedy Pilgrim. Providence Academy responded with a 6-1 run and gained the lead at 6-3. A pair of three-pointers from Mya Morris and Cora Grismer gave the Yellowjackets a 9-8 lead with thirteen minutes left in the first half.

The Lions responded the way the best team in the class would respond by outscoring Perham 46-16 to head into the intermission with a 56-25 lead. In the locker room, the Yellowjackets were upset with the way they competed in the first 18 minutes of the game.

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Perham' Mya Morris drive the lane in the Yellowjackets' 96-65 loss to Providence Academy at Perham on Feb. 25, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

“At halftime, the girls were a little bit frustrated that we weren’t playing better,” Super said. “Instead of pouting about it and backing off, the girls said they would go out there and play better. Coming into the second half, we were playing better and we cut into the lead. Then we had a couple of turnovers and turning the ball over against Providence means a score. That made it really tough.”

Perham started the second half with four points from Willow Thiel and a three from Morris to cut into the already big lead but the Lions did not allow the Yellowjackets to even sniff a tie. Perham battled, scoring 40 second-half points but the efforts were too little, too late.

Thiel finished with a team-high 15 points. She also added eight rebounds and five assists. Morris (14 points) also scored in double-figures. She was making it rain from deep, hitting 4-9 from beyond the arc. The Yellowjackets had 10 different girls score in the game.

Providence Academy’s Maddyn Greenway ended with a game-high 33 points. Grace Counts (21 points), Hope Counts (17) and Brooke Hohenecker (12) all scored double-digit points for the Lions.

Perham’s will to never give up showed in the second half even with the win out of reach. Super saw glimpses of what his team can do against top-ranked opponents like Providence Academy.


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Perham's Olivia Rosenthal guards Providence Academy's Maddyn Greenway in the Yellowjackets' 96-65 loss to the Lions at Perham on Feb. 25, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Perham Focus

“I think the biggest takeaway is we can compete with a team like this for stretches,” he said. “There were a lot of stretches where we played them even and some stretches where we outplayed them. Overall, they are really good at capitalizing on mistakes. We know that if we are to play a team like that, we can’t make those same mistakes. We have told the girls even when we win by 20 that we can’t give up offensive rebounds and have too many turnovers. We cut that down and this game is a lot closer.”

The loss helped Super see the true identity of his team, especially with the section tournament looming in the near future.

“I think we learned that when we are who we are, we are really good too,” he said. “When we are playing our style of basketball, we are a really good team. Going into the section tournament, we are going to face teams that know who we are a lot more and face teams that have game plans ready for us. The reality is that when we play at our best, we are good. When we are good, we are tough to beat.”

PER 25 40- 65

PA 56 40- 96

PERHAM- Mya Morris: 14 points, 3 rebounds; Cora Grismer: 9 points, 1 rebound; Olivia Rosenthal: 2 points, 3 rebounds; Kaia Anderson: 9 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists; Greta Raser: 2 points; Kennedy Pilgrim: 5 points, 2 assists; Olivia Pilgrim: 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Willow Thiel: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists; Cate Diggins: 2 points; Ryleigh Mickelson: 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist

PROVIDENCE ACADEMY SCORING- Brooke Hohenecker 12, Emma Millerbernd 4, Ari Peterson 4, Hope Counts 17, Maddyn Greenway 33, Kyra Miller 5, Grace Counts 21

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