Breckenridge tops rival Perham in 8AA championship game
On paper, No. 7-ranked Perham was the bigger team, the faster team, the top-seeded team. It was a Yellowjacket boys basketball team that had beaten Breckenridge by 16 in February. Even Breckenridge coach Arly Ohm said, after winning in the section semifinals, he knew Perham was the favorite.
On paper, Perham was better. Friday's Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 championship game was played on a basketball court, not paper. On Friday, March 17, on the court of Concordia's Memorial Auditorium, Breckenridge was better, winning 54-41 and capturing the section crown.
The Cowboys (26-2) never trailed.
"No, of course not," Breckenridge senior Stevin Lipp said when asked if he considered the win an upset. "We're two really good teams. When two really good teams go at it, anyone can win. It's not an upset by any means."
Lipp rarely shows emotion. With 14.2 seconds remaining in Friday's game, Breckenridge's Carson Yaggie stepped to the free-throw line. The game was over, but the final buzzer still remained. Lipp, after scoring a game-high 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds, walked alone on the other side of the court with each hand on his jersey and a smile that wouldn't go away.
"At that point, I kind of knew that we finally did it," Lipp said. "All the hard work we put in all season finally paid off."
After the buzzer sounded, Ohm found Lipp, hugged him and told him he loved him.
"Stevin is a senior, he's been doing it for us all year," Ohm said. "I just love Stevin Lipp in so many ways, more than just a basketball player. He's a great kid."
Breckenridge opened the game on a 20-9 run, pushing its lead to as much as 12 in the first half. Thanks to 14 points from Lipp, the Cowboys took a 26-18 lead into halftime.
"Every loose ball it seems like they got their hands on it and they secured it," Perham coach Dave Cresap said. "Lipp said, 'I'm going to put this on my back,' and he took over. We had no answer for that. I got to give them credit. They came at us hard. Overall, they just outworked us."
Breckenridge sophomore big man Noah Christensen couldn't hold back the tears after the win. It was he and Yaggie down low having to fight for everything against 6-foot-7 Perham senior Aaron Solberg and 6-foot-4, 280-pound Perham junior Logan Richter.
Christensen finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
"It's all the hard work we put in," Christensen said when asked where the tears were coming from. "Day 1, since we've started, we've put in work. Next man up is our philosophy and that's what we do. We thought we could win, we came out here and we fought and got the win."
Perham (27-3) cut the lead to six points in the second half three different times, but Breckenridge always had an answer.
"We got a lot of grit," Lipp said with a smile that seemingly was never going to leave his face.
B: Yaggie 6, Christensen 14, Kram 4, Lipp 23, Feigum 4, Bakken 3.
P: Moser 9, Beachy 1, Richter 10, Solberg 9, Lafond 12.
Half: B 26, P 18.