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Chris Murphy, Published February 20 2014

Perham tops Barnesville, clinches share of HOL conference

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – Perham assistant coach Ryan Reuter grabbed guard Nick Bahls at halftime and reminded him of his ability to score.

The senior was in unfamiliar territory, having been held scoreless in the first half by Barnesville in a game in which the winner clinched a share of the Heart O’ Lakes Conference title with Hawley.

In the second half, Bahls got familiar with the bottom of the net, scoring 17 points and leading the Yellowjackets to a 57-52 win over Barnesville.

“(Reuter) looked me in the eye, grabbed me and said, ‘You know how to score. If your teammates give you the ball, you know what to do with it,’” Bahls said. “My teammates got me the ball and I was more aggressive in the second half.”

Bahls was cold-blooded in the second half, answering everything Barnesville threw at Perham. The Trojans took their first lead on a Kyler Martz layup at 26-25 early in the second half. Bahls responded with a 3-pointer. Michael Strand had a 3-point play to tie the game at 36, and Bahls again buried a 3-pointer. Martz came back with a 3-point play of his own to tie the game at 39 and Bahls hit another 3-pointer.

“He was dynamite,” Perham coach Dave Cresap said. “The thing about him is he can go off for 20 in a hurry. When he makes his first shot, he’s lethal. Tonight, he missed, but then he got going and took off.”

It was only fitting Bahls was at the free-throw line with 28.7 seconds and Perham up 55-52. Bahls sank both free throws. The one time Bahls didn’t have an answer – after missing two free throws with 12 seconds to go and the Yellowjackets up five – he came out of nowhere for a block on a 3-point attempt with seven seconds to go to officially destroy the Trojans’ conference championship hopes.

“It’s always fun to beat Barnesville,” Bahls said. “We didn’t try to stress too much on conference championships or a No. 1 seed in the subsection. We just thought of this as another game to bring momentum into the playoffs.”

After the game, Cresap screamed inside the Perham (18-7) locker room for the Yellowjackets to not be satisfied. Clinching the top seed in the Class 2A, Section 8 subsection and a share of the conference title is an expectation at Perham. It’s the trips to state that are satisfying.

“This doesn’t mean anything,” Cresap said. “We ain’t done nothing yet. The seniors can be proud because it’s a conference championship that nobody can take away, but there’s more work to do.”

There wasn’t much work to do in the opening minutes of Thursday’s game for Perham, as Barnesville (18-5) missed its first eight shots and looked nothing like a team that had won 15 of its last 16 games. Strand’s nine points in the first half kept the Trojans in it, as Perham took a 25-21 lead into the break.

“We both know that we’re good teams and we’re going to push each other to be better,” said Perham senior forward Hunter Salathe, who had 14 points. “Tonight, the better team came out on top.”

Martz hit two of his game-high 18 to pull Barnesville within 53-50 with 47 seconds to go. Tyler Glines’ only two points in the second half followed on two free throws for Perham.

“It’s not the end of the season,” Barnesville coach Todd Henrickson said. “We aren’t done yet. We still got some work to do. You don’t forget this.”

P (18-7): Beachy 3 2-2 6, Salathe 6 2-5 14, Glines 2 2-2 6, Bahls 5 4-6 17, Muer 5 2-2 12, Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 12-17 57.

B (18-5): Martz 7 2-4 18, Strand 5 2-2 12, Sauve 3 5-7 12, N. Randklev 1 0-0 2, Dokkebakken 1 0-0 2, B. Randklev 3 0-1 6. Totals 34 9-14 52.

Halftime: P 25, B 21. 3-pointers: Martz 2, Sauve 1, Bahls 3. Total fouls: B 14, P 13. Rebounds: B 15 (Sauve 5), P 22 (Bahls 6).

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548