Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic: Perham impressive against Worthington
A perennial power from northwestern Minnesota, the Yellowjackets took command early, utilizing an eye-opening 15-4 run to change an early 8-5 Worthington lead into a 20-12 Perham advantage.
Executing well on offense and stifling the Trojans with their hustle and defensive teamwork, the Yellowjackets continued to stretch the lead, eventually posting an 81-52 victory, earning advancement to this evening’s championship game.
Mankato West also won decisively, defeating Sibley East 79-56 in Friday’s first varsity game.
Sibley East (3-7) and Worthington (3-4) tangle in today’s third-place game at 5 p.m.
Perham (8-2) and Mankato West (7-2) —who have split in two previous Trojan Holiday Classic championship games — will square off in the title contest at approximately 6:30 p.m.
“This was as well as we have played,” declared veteran Perham head coach Dave Cresap, who was pleased with his team’s hustle. “I think we came up with almost every loose ball and converted on a lot of opportunities created by our hustle.”
The Yellowjackets, who are well-known statewide for their tenacious halfcourt defense, drew four charges and made things difficult for the Trojans most of the night.
“We didn’t make the extra pass, we didn’t work hard enough to get open, we couldn’t hit some of the good shots that we did get,” summed up Worthington head coach Jared Keaveney. “Perham outworked us and outplayed us on both ends of the floor.”
Perham senior guard Hunter Salathe played a stellar all-around game for the Yellowjackets, scoring 33 points —on 12 two-point field goals and a nine-of-11 night at the free throw line —pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing off five assists.
Junior forward Sam Muer, who at an even six-foot stands two inches shorter than Salathe, displayed his leaping ability and finished with a team-high 13 rebounds, to go along with 14 points and a team-leading seven assists.
Senior guard Eli Beachy (5-9) netted a dozen points —including two of only four Perham three-pointers —while distributing six assists and hustling for five steals.
One of Beachy’s steals epitomized how things went in Perham’s favor.
Trailing 60-38 early in the second half, Worthington’s Will Dudley made a great steal on an attempted Perham lob pass. But, Beachey intercepted Dudley’s pass and zipped a pass to Salathe who converted one of his many layups.
“That was an example of how they made plays,” exclaimed Keveavey. “They created a lot of easy baskets with their hustle and hard work.”
In the first half, Beachy broke wide open under the baskets —after two Yellowjackets quickly exchanged places —and converted on a dandy bounce pass from Salathe.
“I don’t know if we can play any better,” noted Cresap. “I hope we can. We have a good team and we sure played well —our kids like playing here in Worthington.”
Trojans score first, take three early leads
Worthington won the tip and took a quick 2-0 lead 17 seconds in when Carter Lindner was fouled —on a shot attempt off a nifty lob pass from Marcus Potter.
Lindner sank both free throws, and after Perham’s Tyler Glines nailed a three-pointer, the Trojans took a 5-3 edge on a three-pointer from Will Mulder.
Salathe scored the first of his 17 first-half points to tie the score.
Worthington responded with a three-pointer by Spencer Grafing and the Trojans were leading, 8-5.
Salathe’s lead pass to a streaking Nick Bahls was converted into a three-point play and the score was tied at 8-8 with just three minutes gone.
It looked like it may be a repeat of last year’s meeting between the two friendly rivals —a nail-biting double overtime thriller in the 2012 championship (won by Worthington, 79-70).
But, Perhams’s defensive help, ability to block out on the boards, convert on fastbreaks and execute its halfcourt offense, allowed the Yellowjackets to score 12 of the game’s next 16 points.
Beachy capped that early Perham run with a three-pointer from the corner —off a “kickout” pass from the penetrating Salathe —giving his team a 20-12 lead at the 12:31 mark of the first half.
All five Perham starters scored during those first five minutes and 29 seconds.
“We’re not very tall, but we share the ball well and play hard,” praised Cresap. “We got things rolling pretty well and were able to continue to execute.”
The lead stretched to 24-13 before Mulder converted a three-point play, slicing the gap back to eight (24-16).
That was as close as the Trojans came.
Perham increased its leads to 31-18, 37-22 and 43-27 before taking a 49-32 advantage into intermission.
A nice feed from Jake Weg to Dudley for a Trojan basket at the 5:37 mark trimmed the lead to 33-22 and back-to-back baskets by Potter and Grafing (three-pointer) produced a brief 5-0 Worthington run (which made the score 38-27).
But, most of the the final minutes before the break were dominated by the Yellowjackets —including a spectacular offensive rebound basket by the right-handed Salathe, who leaped high and scored with his left hand.
He was fouled on the play and converted one of Perham’s four three-point plays in the first half.
Perham dominance continues in second half
It didn’t take the Yellowjackets long to re-establishlish control after intermission.
Starting with another assist from Salathe to Beachy for a corner three-pointer, Perham quickly took a 52-32 lead.
The Trojans countered with three-pointers by Grafing and Lindner, keeping the spread at 20 (58-38).
The Yellowjackets, however, continued to pass the ball well and extended their lead to 64-40 when Bahls found Salathe over the top for a hoop.
A nifty feed from Potter to Dudley at the 9:49 mark sparked the Trojans, as did Grafing’s fourth three-pointer of the game.
But, Perham stretched its 68-45 lead to the final 29-point cushion by scoring 13 of the final 20 points.
Worthington junior guard Zack Palmer drilled a top-of-the-key three-pointer —the Trojans’ ninth of the game —and Perham’s Trey Moborg scored the game’s final basket off a perfect screen-and-roll pass from Nic Winkels.
Mulder and Grafing scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, to lead Worthington’ scoring.
Perham 49 81
Worthington 32 52
Perham (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Moberg 0-1-1-3, Beachy 2-2-2-12, Salathe 0-12-9-33, Glines 1-2-0-7, Meader 0-2-1-5, Kennemich 1-2-0-7, Muer 0-5-4-14. Totals. 4-26-17-81.
Worthington (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Dudley 0-3-0-6, Grafing 4-0-0-12, Potter 1-1-1-6, Palmer 1-0-0-3, Mulder 1-5-1-14, Lindner 2-0-2-8, Weg 0-1-1-3. Totals 9-10-5-52.