Boys basketball: Perham spoils first night at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse with convincing win over Detroit Lakes
Perham put together a complete game on both ends of the floor to hand Detroit Lakes its fifth loss of the season. While the Yellowjackets are trending towards contending for a section championship, the Lakers are still finding themselves in their new identity.
The excitement of playing for the first time at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse quickly wore off for the Detroit Lakes boys basketball team as they met a Class AA juggernaut.
The Perham Yellowjackets (5-1) won their fourth consecutive game in an 81-57 victory over Detroit Lakes (1-5). After winning the Grand8 championship a week earlier despite some shooting woes, the Yellowjackets got hot early on and never took their foot off the gas.
"They put a lot of time in during the summer, and it's starting to pay off," Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. "They're shooting with confidence, but even better than that is our defense. Our defense is so solid. (Detroit Lakes) scored some late to get in the 50s, but we were solid all night. The kids have really bought into this game plan. If they shoot like this with our defense, we're going to be really tough to beat."
Perham jumped out to a 16-4 lead after a pair of three-pointers from Soren Anderson. From there, Micah Thompson took over. He had 13 of his game-high 27 points in the first half. He also finished with 13 rebounds, six steals and four assists.
"It's pretty hard to guard him," Cresap said of Thompson. "When we go up against a zone, we move him inside. We were doing that at the beginning of the game. He's so tough on the block, and he's tough to guard. He's a good passer. He's a magnificent player. He's just gotta keep getting better. He's a high-level player. If he keeps his work ethic and that good attitude, the sky's the limit."
Thompson, Anderson and Jacob Daniels paced the Perham defense from the opening tip. In a game where the Yellowjackets scored 81 points, they celebrated their defense first and foremost.
"I think one of the biggest things going for us as a team right now is how much we like playing basketball with each other," Thompson said. "Our chemistry keeps improving. We only had two guys that played real varsity minutes last year, but the leadership from all four of our captains has been awesome. Playing with these guys has just been so fun. The more we play, the better we are going to get."
Detroit Lakes got a spark from sophomore guard Devon Berg. He came off the bench midway through the first half and scored five points to cut the Lakers' deficit to four. Berg has been a factor off the bench in all three games he's played in since missing the early part of the season.
"He was injured to start the year, so we're bringing him along slow," Detroit Lakes head coach Brett Maass said of Berg. "He's probably our most skilled player other than Cihak. He's just figuring it out too. It's his sixth game. We have to stay positive. We have to understand and see the big picture."
Perham ended the first half on its second 16-4 run of the game. While Thompson and Anderson put up the big scoring totals, Daniels did the dirty work. He collected 11 rebounds and scored 10 points to earn his first career double-double.
"He's really coming on for us," Cresap said Daniels. "He didn't play at all for us last year. He's really doing a lot of things. He does those little things that most of the fans don't see. He's only 6-foot, 1-inch, and he's in there rebounding and doing the dirty work. A lot of times that goes unseen by everybody else."
Perham also got contributions from Chas Melvin. He only took four shots, but he hit three of them, including two from the perimeter.
"He's awesome," Cresap said of Melvin. "He hits a lot of big shots when we need them. If they don't guard him, he's going to make threes. Many people don't think he can shoot it, but he's 70% from the field in practice. If they want to do that, more power to them, I guess."
The 35-19 halftime score proved to be too big of a mountain to climb for the Lakers. But in a season emphasized by learning and growth, the second half showed signs of what this Detroit Lakes team could look like at the end of the season.
"We had 19 points at halftime and finished with 57," senior Nate Cihak said. "It's always good to get 38 points in a half, especially against Perham, who is an excellent defensive team. Cresap gets those guys in shape. He's a great coach. They're always so disciplined on defense, and they don't really jump for anything. It's difficult playing a team like that."
"The second half I'm happy with," Maass said. "The first half was frustrating offensively, but this is the first time we've kind of broken out of a press. The kids responded and played really hard. We put up 38 points in the second half and really got the pace moving. It took us a while, and it's going to take us even longer to get where we need to be. This is where we're at right now. I saw a lot of positives tonight, and I'm happy with how we ended it."
Mason Carrier was the lone Laker in double digits. In another breakout performance, the sophomore guard put up 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
"Mason is a great basketball player," Maass said. "He's a physical specimen right now at only 16-years-old. He's just going to continue to get better and better and better. This is only his sixth varsity start. Devon Berg and Brandton Marsh played good minutes. We had a bunch of juniors out there playing good minutes. We're getting there. We just have to stay patient."
As Perham continues to notch statement wins, the potential of a special season looms. However, Cresap and Thompson know they have a long way to go before they grab a pair of scissors to cut down the nets in March.
"It could be a special season, but we want to keep building first," Cresap said. We turned the ball over a little bit too much tonight. We bit too much. We were playing at a faster pace, and I told them we were going to turn it over a little more, but we're going to clean that up a little bit and clean up the screens. If our defense stays consistent, we can be a really good team."
"We know that we can be good if we put our minds to it and work hard in practice," Thompson said. "We can make a deep run in practice if we stick to the three words Cresap says to us: focus, hungry and confident. If we keep those in the back of our mind, we'll be fine."
Detroit Lakes' 1-5 start to the season can be attributed to the combined opponent's record of 32-12. Perham was the latest team to take advantage of a growing Detroit Lakes group in a season filled with learning opportunities.
"We celebrated some small victories tonight like our second half," Maass. "Perham is just so good, and they're so well-coached. I was impressed with them. We knew how they were going to be coming in. This is who we want to play. We want to play good teams. This is how you get better. We're fortunate to have a schedule like we do. We're not going to make excuses. We're going to get better and play harder."