Perham powers past Redwood Valley to earn spot in Class 2A boys state semifinals

Perham's Carter Cresap takes a look over the defense as he is guarded by Redwood Valley's Bryant Haas during the first half of the Class 2A quarterfinals at Williams Arena. Jason Groth / Forum News Service
Perham's Carter Cresap takes a look over the defense as he is guarded by Redwood Valley's Bryant Haas during the first half of the Class 2A quarterfinals at Williams Arena. Jason Groth / Forum News Service

MINNEAPOLIS — The Perham Yellowjackets used a 14-4 run to start the second half en route to a 73-58 victory against Redwood Valley during the Minnesota Class 2A state boys basketball quarterfinals Wednesday, March 20, at Williams Arena.

The Yellowjackets (30-1) used a dominant performance on the interior, getting the Cardinals (16-12) into foul trouble early. Perham held a 36-21 edge on the glass with a 15-3 edge on the offensive boards.

“It was a really fun game,” Perham’s Charlie Rasmussen said. “It feels awesome to come down here and win a game at state. It’s amazing.”

The Yellowjackets balance was too much for the Cardinals. Perham had four players finish with double-digit points. Rasmussen finished with 19 points, while Jenson Beachy and Finn Diggins finished with 15 points each. Josh Jeziorski added 14.

After a sluggish start, the Yellowjackets started attacking inside and took a 23-13 lead. However, Redwood Valley, led by Cole Woodford’s 25 points, charged back and cut the lead to one. With the clock winding down in the first half, Carter Cresap sank a deep 3-pointer, swinging the momentum back Perham’s way.

“I felt that 3 did change the momentum a bit going into the half,” Cresap said. “Coming into the second half, we started really well and got our lead going a bit.”

The Yellowjackets stormed out of the gates in the second half with a 14-4 run, building the lead up to 42-28. They did so by attacking inside the lane. They hit 24 of 35 free throws, while Redwood Valley was just 3 of 5 from the line.

“They are a good team and we knew we couldn’t take them for granted with their record,” Beachy said. “It’s the state tournament and anyone can win on any given night. They came out ready to go, but Cresap’s 3-pointer was huge momentum going into the second half.”

Jeziorski and Diggins each recorded a double-double, grabbing 13 and 12 rebounds, respectively. While the Yellowjackets are usually a strong 3-point shooting team, this time they attacked inside, showcasing their advantage in the paint. Perham hit just 3 of 14 from 3-point range.

“A lot of teams watch film on us and think that we are a good 3-point shooting team, which we are, but we have the ability to take the ball to the hoop at any given point,” Beachy said. “We can finish at the rim and make free throws, too.”

Perham head coach Dave Cresap was happy with the team’s effort. Cresap said he told the kids to relax after the slow start which had the Yellowjackets in an early 8-1 hole.

“I thought we came out like beasts on the defensive end in that second half,” Dave Cresap said. “Woodford is a heck of a player and we made him earn his shots. Diggins and Jeziorski did a great job on the glass. It was a total team effort. We had balanced scoring.”

The Yellowjackets next play Minneapolis North in the state semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday, March 22, at Target Center. The Polars defeated Esko 61-53 in the quarterfinals.

Half: Perham 28, RV 24

RV: Connor Josephson 1, Cole Woodford 23, Bronson Smith 10, Kyle Huhnerkoch 12, Colin Wells 2, Bryant Haas 5, Alex Lang 5.

PHS: Jenson Beachy 15, Charlie Rasmussen 19, Josh Jeziorski 14, Finn Diggins 15, Carter Cresap 7, Elijah Morris 3.