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Perham girls hoops outlast Verndale in overtime

Perham's Gabby DeBoer drives through traffic and goes up strong for a pair against Verndale. Jason Groth/FOCUS

The Perham Yellowjacket girls basketball team has dubbed their team the cardiac kids for their knack of playing close games that go down to the wire. The Yellowjackets held true to the formula on Feb. 17, earning a 48-41 overtime victory over Verndale in Verndale.

The Pirates erased a seven point deficit in the second half and scored the final four points of regulation, forcing the extra session. However, Perham recorded the first two buckets in overtime and pulled away at the free throw line, earning the seven point win.

“Hard fought wins seem to be our motto and it’s our M.O. right now,” Perham head coach T.J. Super said. “Verndale has a really well coached team and they have a couple of really good players. They have won a lot of games in the last three years and they have a lot of varsity experience with those girls. We knew it was going to be a tough battle. We thought we matched up well with them. I don’t think we played our best game, but after being sluggish in the first half, we had some good minutes from some subs and some of our players came back and played really well. In overtime, we made some good plays defensively and hit some big free throws down the stretch.”

The Yellowjackets have earned the cardiac kids moniker for their play in close games. The Yellowjackets are now 10-1 in games that are decided by 10 points or less. They have won two games in overtime on the season. The Yellowjackets average 51.5 points per game, while allowing 49.6 points per game.

The Yellowjackets were led by the play of Gabby DeBoer. DeBoer was aggressive to the hoop and taking it up strong in the first half. She led all scorers with 19 points, 15 of them coming in the first half. She proved to be a tough matchup problem for the the Pirates in the first half, however, they made some adjustments and slowed her down in the second half.

“She was a machine in the first half. When she gets it going, she can drive hard to the basket and we have a bunch of those girls on our team,” Super said. “Over the last couple of days, we have worked on really honing in on your strengths and get our weaknesses into strengths. Gabby did a really nice job of going to her right and left and finishing on her dominant side. There were a lot of times where she went to her other side and it really helped out.”

The Yellowjackets wanted to focus on Verndale’s Shania Glenz. Glenz opened the game strong, scoring eight of her 11 points in the first half. However, she was unable to get going in the second half and into overtime.

Shania Glenz

“We did not start the game very good defensively and that is a fact. We gave up too many easy baskets and too many offensive rebounds,” Super said. “Whether we went zone or man, it was the same thing. Girls like Amber Thompson, Leah Muer and Aixa Kolafale came in and did a real good job and gave us defensive energy. When the defense gets clamped down, that’s when we went on our run. When we can play defense and rebound, we can be a good team.”

Amber Thompson follows through on her shot for two.

The Yellowjackets and the Pirates exchanged baskets early with the Pirates grabbing an early five point lead, 17-12. However, Perham outscored Verndale, 14-4, closing out the first half with the lead.

The physicality of the game picked up in the second half and it was Verndale, who slowly worked their way back into the game. The Yellowjackets led by seven three times in the second half, but the Pirates were persistent and cut the lead down to four with 4:56 to go on a 3-point play by Glenz. While Glenz was silent for much of the second half, Jordan Carr and Claudia Quera-Madrena came up with key baskets. Quera-Madrena cut the lead to two points and Alexys Thompson tied the game at 39 with 42.4 seconds to go. The Yellowjackets had a pair of looks at the basket in the final seconds, however, could not get them to drop.

The Yellowjackets took the lead quickly in overtime session when DeBoer drove to the basket for two. Janie Wunderlich followed with a bucket of her own. Carr answered, but the Yellowjackets hit five free throws in the closing seconds, securing the road win for the Yellowjackets.

Carr added 11 points for the Pirates, while Alexys Thompson and Morgan Glenz finished with five points each. Wunderlich added 10, while Benedict finished with six for Perham.

The loss moves Verndale to 14-10 overall on the season. The Pirates return to action on Feb. 21 when they take on Upsala in Upsala.

The Yellowjackets improve their season mark to 17-6 overall. The Yellowjackets close out the regular season at home.

“We have a tough week next week with Pelican Rapids, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Thief River Falls. We set a benchmark of 18 wins which we thought would be a really, really nice season,” Super said. “We have three games next week and we sure would like to get 18 and go forward from there. Next week is really about us playing basketball the way we want to play when we are heading into playoffs. We have some good things that we can work on to prepare us for playoffs.”

The Yellowjackets have two remaining Heart O’Lakes Conference games when they host Pelican Rapids on Feb. 21 and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on Feb. 23.

Janie Wunderlich drives through the lane.

PER 26 13 9--48

VER 21 18 2--41

PER-Amber Thompson 4, Josie Beachy 3, Serena Langen 1, Jadyn Benedict 6, Gabby DeBoer 19, Janie Wunderlich 10, Aixa Kolafale 5

3-point goals- Benedic, DeBoer

VER-Morgan Glenz 5, Haley Youngbauer 2, Alexys Thompson 5, Jordan Carr 14, Shania Glenz 11, Claudia Quera-Madrena 4

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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