Todd Boerger put up 22 points to lead the team, but runs by the Falcons proves too much to overcome.
FERTILE - Crookston trailed the Fertile-Beltrami Falcons by 17 points with five minutes to play trying to avoid their fifth straight loss. In four minutes, the Pirates managed to cut the deficit to five as they trailed 52-47 with 1:08 remaining in the game, but free throws by the Falcons clinched the 59-50 win for Fertile-Beltrami.
Senior guard Todd Boerger led the Pirates (4-6) with 22 points scoring 11 in each half. Senior center Carter Winand contributed 12 with nine of them coming in the final three minutes of the game. Winand grabbed seven rebounds. Also scoring for Crookston, junior forwards Nick Garmen and Blake Fee added eight and seven and sophomore center Caden Osborn converted a free throw.
Head Coach Greg Garmen recognized Boerger’s efforts, but admitted he wants to see more players contribute.
“He’s been really our steady player doing everything the same each night,” Garmen said. “But we need other players to become steadier and keep getting better. Right now with our younger kids, we’re a little uncharacteristic. We got to have everybody step up.”
The Pirates played from behind most of the night starting down 6-0. Crookston scored their first points four minutes into the game with a three from Boerger and a three less than a minute later by Garmen tied the game 6-6.
The Falcons offense took control going on an 11-0 run before Boerger ended the Pirates’ skid with another trey. Layups by Boerger and Garmen put the Pirates back in it down 17-13 with 6:43 remaining in the first half.
Fertile-Beltrami distanced themselves from Crookston once again now leading 24-16. After an Osborn free throw with four minutes left in the first half, Boerger converted on his third three of the game. Winand put the Pirates within two with a jumper scoring his first points of the game.
Down 26-22 with 55 seconds to play in the first half, Crookston possessed a chance to get closer, but a turnover ended the threat and the Pirates went into the locker room down 26-22.
“We finally hit some of the open shots we were getting,” Garmen said. “We had a little zip going into halftime. But we came out and got down, had to fight back and couldn’t stop them. We had some bad turnovers too.”
Todd Boerger scored from the charity stripe to start the second half and Garmen added a putback for two making the score 30-26 in favor of Fertile Beltrami. The Falcons then went on another 11-0 run over a span of over seven minutes.
The Pirates ended the run with a three point shot by Boerger to trail 41-29, but the Falcons continued their hot streak increasing their lead to 49-32.
Fee started the Pirates’ surge with a free throw. Fee missed the second, but the Pirates took the rebound and passed to Fee who knocked down a three.
Winand found a groove with three minutes left with a jumper, a layup with a foul, a free throw and a successful shot from the arc to draw Crookston within five and cap off a 15-3 run by the Pirates with 1:08 to play.
“[We] got more active on the defensive end and got some stops,” Garmen said. “They started taking some more chances which seemed to help us get some more opportunities with the ball. [Carter] started looking for his shot more. He sort of takes what comes to him, but we need him to be a little more assertive.”
The Falcons were able to make their crucial free throws ending the Pirates’ hopes for a comeback.
Garmen commended his team for their fight in the waning minutes, but hopes to clean up the errors in future games.
“They could’ve rolled over and packed it in, but they just need to be sharper all the way around,” Garmen said. “Whether it’s sprinting over for timeouts, closing out on shooters without jumping and little things like that we got to get better at.”
The loss is Crookston’s fifth straight after a record of 4-1 to start the season. Three of the losses in the stint were decided by a margin of less than 10 points. The Pirates will have a chance to earn some wins when they come home for a pair of weekend games against East Grand Forks and Wadena-Deer Creek on Friday, January 5 and Saturday, January 6. Friday’s contest starts at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday’s tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m.