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Postseason poise: Perham cruises to victory in Minnesota state boys basketball quarterfinal

MINNEAPOLIS - There is something to be said for experience. Like how, at times, it can be a bit overrated. Perham's boys basketball team for the first time in school history was in "the show," dealing with the bright lights, big-time college gym....

Perham's Jordan Cresap
Perham's Jordan Cresap drives against the defense of Virginia's Cavan Stockpool (10) and Cade Stockpool on Wednesday during the Minnesota Class 2A state boys basketball tournament at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. David Samson / The Forum

MINNEAPOLIS - There is something to be said for experience. Like how, at times, it can be a bit overrated.

Perham's boys basketball team for the first time in school history was in "the show," dealing with the bright lights, big-time college gym. And all this came against Virginia, a team that's made the state tournament the last two seasons.

None of that really mattered. Perham (29-1) showed no mercy, using a first-half pummeling to cruise to a 57-40 win on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class 2A state boys basketball tournament at Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota.

"Our defense, it played really well," said point guard Jordan Bruhn. "I think what we were able to do really helped us out in that second half when they were making it a closer game."

The first test in the state tournament sure was a lofty one. Add all the previously mentioned reasons - along with the team seeing teammate Zach Gabbard for the first time since he collapsed during a game on Jan. 20 - and it's easy to understand why the first half was important.

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Being active was the key for Perham on both ends of the court. Defensively, the team bought into having active hands in the passing lanes, leading to steals. Or being able to box out for rebounds while making Virginia take bad shots from all over the court.

Virginia was struggling, and even its band might have missed the memo when it played "Paint It Black" when Perham walked out of the tunnel. Perham's colors are black and yellow.

"Having him back was definitely an inspiration for us," said Perham guard Jordan Cresap.

If anyone would know, it would be Cresap.

Cresap, who along with Bruhn grew up with Gabbard, was thrust into the starting lineup to take Gabbard's place.

The smile Gabbard flashed after Cresap hit a 3-pointer was an indicator that he was pleased. It was one of five he knocked down.

Cresap scored a game-high 19, and he did it in a variety of ways. He did it with backdoor cuts leading to easy layups, and because Perham uses a motion offense, it allowed him to come off a screen multiple times and knock down a shot off the wing.

Asked how Gabbard would evaluate his performance, Cresap said, "He'd probably say I did well, but I gotta start making more layups."

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A strong first half was followed by Virginia inching its way back into the game. Virginia took what was once was a 24-point lead and gnawed it down to 12 with about three minutes left until Perham flexed its muscle.

By that point, it was evident this was Perham's game. Both teams emptied the benches with 1:12 left, and Perham's Desmine Duffy might have made one of the game's more athletic plays.

He was diving for a ball and - with a raised court at Williams Arena - he caught the ball, hopped over two journalists and a railing in one jump.

Duffy got a nice ovation, but Virginia still got possession.

It might have been the only time when the ball didn't bounce Perham's way.

PERHAM: Schumacher 1 0-1 2 Bruhn 3 0-1 6 Cresap 6 2-2 19 Tobkin 5 0-0 13 Stratton 6 0-0 2 Duffy 0 0-0 0 Pankonin 1 0-0 2 Hein 1 0-1 2. Totals: 23 3-7 57

VIRGINIA: Stackpool 3 0-0 8 Cav. Stackpool 5 1-1 12 Wilson 2 2-2 7 Conaway 2 0-0 4 Buck 3 3-5 8 Anderson 0 0-1 0. Totals: 15 6-8 40

HALF: P 38, V 14. 3-pointers: P, Cresap 5, Tobkin 3. V, Stackpool 2, Cav. Stackpool 1, Wilson 1.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark's Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
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