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Pat Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published March 16 2012

Perham gets past Bagley for state boys basketball berth

BEMIDJI, Minn. – With two minutes to play in Friday’s Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 boys basketball championship game, Perham coach Dave Cresap tried to talk to his players during a timeout. By that stage of the game, however, his voice had lost the fight against the constant cheering of the crowds.

But his players understood just enough of what Cresap had to say, as the Yellowjackets successfully defended their section crown with a 47-42 victory over Bagley at Bemidji State.

“I had to yell the entire game. I had players this far (an arm’s length) away who couldn’t hear what I was saying,” Cresap said. “What a crowd.”

Bagley came into Friday’s battle a underdog. The Flyers (23-7) were undersized and didn’t have the tournament experience gained by winning a state championship the previous year.

But Bagley did not play like an underdog. The Flyers never backed down, battled for every rebound, every loose ball and every possession, and gave Perham a scare that the defending state champs will not forget.

“We played the No. 1 team in the state and we gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game and go to state,” said Bagley coach Chuck Anderson. “Over the past two years, we went 50-10. Our guys put together a great career. They worked very hard and I’m proud of them.”

Senior Jordan Bruhn scored 14 points in the opening 18 minutes and would finish with 23 for the Yellowjackets.

“Bagley was fighting for a trip to state just like we were, and I expected Bagley to play this well,” Bruhn said. “We’re the defending state champions, and all year long we have played with a target on our backs.

“Everybody plays their best against us, and Bagley played a heck of a game,” Bruhn continued. “They did everything well. They played with a lot of energy and we did too.”

The Flyers spotted Perham the opening basket of the second half, but Bagley answered with an 11-2 run to take the lead at 29-28 with 12:35 to play.

Bagley was whistled for offensive charging fouls, including one which took away a basket by Tyler George, on three of its four possessions after grabbing the 29-28 lead.

“This was a great crew of officials and they called a great game. But those charging calls were big,” Anderson said. “I didn’t feel that (the defender’s) feet were set on any of the three plays, but that is what they called.”

Late in the game, Kris Skersick hit two free throws and Lorenzo Pemberton connected on a drive to close the gap to 38-35. But the Yellowjackets made just enough free throws in the final two minutes to preserve their 27th win in 29 starts.

“I thought our state tournament experience would help us tonight, but that experience didn’t show,” Cresap said. “Give Bagley credit. They are a great team that wouldn’t go away.

“Everybody is gunning for Perham, and nobody wants to see us repeat,” Bruhn said. “But we have a mission. We’ll live in the moment (Friday night), but we’ll get back to business at practice tomorrow.”

Half: P 24, B 18

B: Thompson 1 0-0 2, Bellefy 0 3-4 3, Knutson 1 0-0 2, George 4 0-0 8, Thompson 1 0-0 2, Skersick 2 4-4 8, Pemberton 7 0-1 15, Lundmark 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 7-9 42.

P: Schumacher 1 3-6 5, Bruhn 9 2-9 23, Cresap 1 3-4 6, Wiskow 2 0-0 4, Anderson 3 2-6 9. Totals 16 10-25 47.

Miller writes for the Bemidji Pioneer