STATE BASKETBALL: Trojans fall to Perham in Class AA state tournamentMINNEAPOLIS — Jordan Bruhn sparked a key 9-0 run midway through the second half Wednesday night, helping turn the tide and leading the top-seeded and defending champion Perham Yellowjackets to an exciting 51-47 victory over the Worthington Trojans in the Minnesota State High School League Class AA boys’ basketball quarterfinals at Target Center.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
MINNEAPOLIS — Jordan Bruhn sparked a key 9-0 run midway through the second half Wednesday night, helping turn the tide and leading the top-seeded and defending champion Perham Yellowjackets to an exciting 51-47 victory over the Worthington Trojans in the Minnesota State High School League Class AA boys’ basketball quarterfinals at Target Center.
Bruhn finished with a team-high 21 points and dished out seven assists, as the Yellowjackets erased a five-point deficit (35-30) with nine consecutive points to gain a four-point advantage (39-35). Perham, which improves to 28-2 overall with its 14th straight win, then held on down the stretch to advance to the semifinals Friday (6 p.m.) when it will take on Litchfield at Target Center — setting its sights on a repeat championship.
Meanwhile, Worthington ends an outstanding season — and a thrilling tournament run that resulted in the Trojans’ first trip to “state” since 1998 — with a record of 21-7.
“This is a tough way for our season to end, as we had high expectations for ourselves coming up here and played well for most of the game,” summed up Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald. “We had some opportunities to extend the lead when we had it and didn’t take advantage, but we battled and played hard until the end. I’m really proud of this group of guys for coming together and playing their best basketball at the right time of the year, leading all of us on a memorable journey to the state tournament — this was an awesome experience.”
The Trojans used an 8-0 run in the first half to take a 22-17 lead and went into the halftime break up 24-22. Worthington then had four more five-point leads — 27-22, 31-26, 33-28 and 35-30 — early in the second half before going scoreless for over four straight minutes.
“This was a great high school basketball game, and it’s a shame one of us had to lose in the first round like this,” Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. “I have a lot of respect for Coach Vorwald and the Trojans, as they have a great team that plays the game the right way. This was a matchup between two teams that know how to play solid half-court, man-to-man defense and it was everything we expected it to be.”
Senior post Mitch Weg led Worthington with a 24-point, 10-rebound double-double, while senior guard Lucas Henning netted nine points and grabbed five rebounds. Seniors Dan Wetering, Jon Reller and Tyler Verdoorn also contributed in their final games as Trojans.
Weg scores 15 points to lead Trojans in first half
Bruhn opened the game’s scoring with a driving basket in the lane just 17 seconds after the tip, while Weg scored twice in the paint — once on a reverse layup underneath and once on a strong pivot move — to give Worthington a 4-2 lead with 15:20 remaining in the first half.
An interior basket by Perham’s Mark Schumacher (eight points, eight rebounds) was then countered by a right-wing 3-pointer from Henning, as the Trojans led 7-4 at the 14:06 mark.
Then, following a long series of defensive stops by both teams, Jordan Cresap (13 points, four rebounds) scored on a drive and also a floater in the lane to put the Yellowjackets back ahead (8-7). Bruhn came up with a steal and was fouled, meshing two free throws to make it 10-7 with 10:56 to play.
Weg, who scored 15 points and ripped down seven rebounds in the first half, scored on a back-down post move from the right block before Bruhn connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 13-9 with 9:53 showing on the clock.
The Trojans’ Marcus Potter provided an offensive-rebound basket, which was immediately answered by a breakaway layup by Perham’s Mike Wiskow (four points, six rebounds). Weg then supplied a 3-point play before Bruhn delivered a bucket off a tough drive in the lane — as the teams traded blows with Perham holding a 17-14 edge at the 8:46 mark.
Worthington, though, got several consecutive defensive stops in the next sequence and scored eight straight points to build a 22-17 cushion with 4:19 left. Reller and Spencer Grafing started that run with mid-range shots, while Weg added two more hoops to put the Trojans up by five.
Bruhn snapped Perham’s long scoring drought with a driving basket at the 3:04 mark and then passed to Cresap for a 3-pointer in the left corner to even things up. However, a second-chance putback by Weg lifted Worthington to a 24-22 halftime lead.
“We played very well in the first half and felt good going into the locker room with the lead,” Vorwald said. “We then did a nice job during the first five minutes of the second half and maintained a five-point margin, as we were right there competing at a high level against a very good team.”
Perham prevails in thrilling second half
Henning buried a 3-pointer from the left corner a minute into the second half, and the Trojans’ Morgan Traylor (six points) scored on back-to-back possessions a bit later — a driving bucket from the free-throw line and a tip-in basket — to offset inside hoops from Schumacher and Cresap.
Schumacher netted two free throws before Weg delivered a perfect bounce pass to Traylor for a layup, as Worthington had its third five-point lead of the second half at 33-28 (27-22 and 31-26 previously) with 14:35 remaining.
Bruhn scored on a drive in transition, but Jon Vorwald responded with a nifty penetrating bucket to again put the Trojans up by five (35-30) at the 12:56 mark.
Cresap fired in an 18-footer from the left corner, and Bruhn turned in a 3-point play to tie the score (at 35) with 11:10 to go. Bruhn then slipped a pass inside to Wiskow for a bucket and also found Cresap with a perfect lead pass for a sweet fast-break basket to cap the Yellowjackets’ 9-0 run that yielded a 39-35 lead with 9:55 showing.
“Our guys won’t give up,” Dave Cresap said. “We had great guard play from Bruhn and Cresap on both ends of the floor, and we really stepped up our team defense in the second half. We applied good pressure on the perimeter and did a nice job of keeping the ball away from Weg, who is a fantastic player for Worthington.”
Weg got the Trojans back on the board with a basket off a post move with 8:40 to go, but a breakaway layup by Jordan Anderson kept the spread at four (41-37) with 7:53 remaining. Several defensive stops ensued before Weg stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a hoop to make it 41-39 with 4:29 left.
An amazing basket off a drive by Bruhn was followed by a top-of-the-key 3-pointer from Henning, as Worthington was within one (43-42) with 3:06 on the clock.
But a tip-in off a loose ball by Schumacher and a clutch pull-up 3-pointer from out top by Bruhn increased Perham’s lead to 48-42 at the 2:03 mark, and the Yellowjackets led by at least three points the rest of the way.
Perham did miss the front end of a pair of one-and-one free-throw chances, which allowed Worthington to pull within 48-45 after Weg sank one of two foul shots and scored on a step-through move with 36 seconds remaining.
The Trojans, though, missed a shot to come within one with about 30 seconds left. Anderson then netted three of four free throws in the final 22 seconds to offset a bucket by Weg, as Perham held on for a 51-47 victory.
The Yellowjackets were 8-for-12 from the free-throw line and committed just nine turnovers, while Worthington was only 2-for-4 from the free-throw line and turned the ball over 11 times.
“We came up a little short tonight, but we had a fantastic season with a lot of great moments,” Ron Vorwald said. “You have to give Perham a lot of credit, as they played tremendous defense and have an experienced group of guys. They made a few more shots and did things just a little bit better than we did.”
WHS 24 23 — 47
Perham 22 29 — 51
WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Vorwald 0-1-0-2, Henning 3-0-0-9, Potter 0-1-0-2, Traylor 0-3-0-6, Grafing 0-1-0-2, Weg 0-11-2-24, Reller 0-1-0-2. Totals: 3-18-2-47.
Perham (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Schumacher 0-3-2-8, Bruhn 2-6-3-21, Cresap 1-5-0-13, Wiskow 0-2-0-4, Jo. Anderson 0-1-3-5. Totals: 3-17-8-51.