Perham does it for Zach
After missing the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 sub-section semifinal with a bout of pneumonia, Perham guard Jordan Bruhn returned with a Herculean effort to lead the No. 6-ranked Perham Yellowjackets to a 64-48 sub-section final victory over No. 4-ranked Pequot Lakes.
Bruhn scored 20 points, but more importantly, ran the Perham offense and controlled the ball, making the Patriots' full-court pressure a non-factor in the game.
"He's a gamer," said Perham head coach Dave Cresap.
Bruhn would have no talking about his condition or any accolades about his play. As far as he is concerned, the Yellowjackets are playing for one big reason.
"We did it for Zach," Bruhn said. "Whenever you think you can't do it, think of Zach."
Zach Gabbard has been missing from the team since he collapsed on the court in Glyndon on Jan. 21.
Perham center Mark Schumacher saw little playing time and scored no points for the first time this season after getting into foul trouble early in both halves.
"They're resilient types of kids," Cresap said. "They've had to persevere through many obstacles, but we never use that as an excuse."
Schumacher had the unpleasant duty of guarding Pequot Lakes senior center Tomas Parker. Schumacher held his own, recording five blocks in the first half before retiring to the bench.
That brought junior forward Sam Stratton into the game. Stratton, averaging seven points per game, scored 18 points and dominated where Parker was supposed to rule, in the paint.
Stratton had similar words to Bruhn about his own effort.
"Win for Zach; that was the main goal," he said. "Zach is going to be down there at state. We just have to keep on winning."
Parker and Pequot Lakes sharpshooter Kurtis Moody both missed the earlier matchup this year, in which Perham defeated the Patriots 64-60.
The return of Parker and Moody was supposed to give the Patriots a big advantage going into the rematch.
"We're not going to stop him," Cresap said. "He's going to get his."
Moody scored 22 and Parker had 18, but the Patriots only got eight points from the rest of the squad.
Perham advances to the Class 2A, Section 8 final at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Concordia College.
Perham (27-1) will take on the Thief River Falls Prowlers (21-7), who upset the Bagley Flyers 69-50 in the north half of the section draw at Crookston.
Perham's 27th victory extends their school record for wins in a season, and they are one more victory away from a trip to the state tournament and a reunion with Zach Gabbard.
Half: Perham 25, PL 24.
P: Bruhn 20, Stratton 18, Tobkin 8, Cresap 6, Hein 6, Wiskow 6.
PL: Moody 22, Parker 18, Anderson 3, Lange 3, Greer 2.