Scoring 84 one day and 83 the other, the Pirates went on to win two games in two days against East Grand Forks and Wadena-Deer Creek.
The Pirates have been a team of streaks this season. After opening the season 4-1 with the help of a four game winning streak, Crookston saw their record fall to 4-6 following a five game losing streak. Desperate to get a win, Crookston welcomed rival East Grand Forks and Wadena-Deer Creek in home matchups against the Green Wave and the Wolverines. The Pirates had not scored over 74 points in ten games, but went on to score 84 and 83 points in back-to-back days to beat East Side and WDC.
In the effort against East Grand Forks, three different players scored over 20 points for the Pirates. Senior center Carter Winand put up 29, senior guard Todd Boerger tallied 21 as did junior forward Nick Garmen.
Also scoring for Crookston, sophomore center Caden Osborn with seven, junior forward Blake Fee contributed three, senior forward Jackson Seibel recorded two and junior forward Jaden Lubarski added a free throw.
The Green Wave took a 7-5 lead three minutes in and held the lead for the next seven minutes. Crookston trailed by as many as six in the first half.
Down 20-14, Winand hit a free throw to start a Pirate rally. Boerger shot a three pointer and Osborn followed with a layup to tie the game at 20-20. Garmen completed the 9-0 Crookston run with a trey of his own with seven minutes remaining in the first half and gave Crookston their first lead since two minutes into the game.
The Pirates extended their lead and went into the locker room up 41-37.
Carter Winand left the game to stop a nosebleed with 12 minutes to play in the first half, but returned shortly after. The Pirates, who struggle shooting from the arc, converted on eight threes in the first half despite that not being the game plan.
“We always want to get the ball inside,” Head Coach Greg Garmen said. “Our focus is to get the ball inside, but it didn’t work that way. Todd, Carter and Nick had quick shots and they got them off when they needed to.”
A technical foul on the Pirates helped the Green Wave start a rally in the second half as they quickly regained the lead 43-41. Winand scored his first points of the half to tie the game at 43-43.
From that point on with 16:45 to play in the game, no team led by more than four points.
Garmen and Boerger hit threes to equalize the score after East Grand Forks took the lead two separate times. Winand hit Crookston’s 11th three of the game and tied the game at 55-55 and another trey by Winand gave the Pirates the 60-59 lead with 11:25 to play.
With 8:30 remaining, East Side earned their largest lead of the half at 66-62. Crookston responded with a 7-0 run courtesy of a pair of Boerger free throws, a Boerger three-pointer and a basket by Winand.
Garmen converted on the Pirates’ 14th trey of the game to give Crookston a 74-73 lead as the game reached its final five minutes.
Each team scored quickly on their respective possessions making for a fast-paced game which worried Garmen.
“We aren’t that deep and we typically have not ran well over the course of this year so far,” Garmen said. “But now I know they can run so we just have to keep it going.”
Crookston trailed 81-78 as the clock showed less than three minutes to play. Winand cut the deficit to 81-80. The Pirate defense got a stop setting up Osborn for the go-ahead basket.
The Green Wave fouled Winand with under a minute to play to stop the clock and Winand sunk both shots to give the Pirates an 84-81 lead.
“It was just another trip to the line,” Winand said. “It’s just free throw form and technique that I practice a lot.”
A missed free throw by Winand with less that five seconds left forced a time out by East Grand Forks who had time for one final desperate heave with 2.1 seconds remaining. The Green Wave could not get a shot off in time and Crookston earned the 84-83 win.
“It’s a lot more special against a team like East Grand Forks,” Winand said. “They’re a really fun team to beat and play because they’re doing pretty good this year and it was a big win for us.”
Winand’s 29 points were one shy of his season high. This was the first time this season Crookston saw three players earn over 20 points.
“We were just playing our game,” Nick Garmen said. “We had a good mind set that we didn’t have the last couple of games.”
Sixteen hours later, Crookston took the court against Wadena-Deer Creek. The Pirates trailed 26-12 at one point in the first half and the Wolverines led Crookston 41-24 at halftime.
Lubarski helped the Pirates overcome the deficit scoring 21 points, a season high. Winand led the team again in points with 23. Boerger scored 16, Fee added five, Seibel contributed four, Osborn put up two and sophomore center and sophomore guard Brady Butt and Walker Winjum each hit one free throw.
“We needed someone to give us a boost and Jaden has shown signs of that up at Thief [River Falls],” Greg Garmen said. “We need him to be consistently doing that and that will certainly take the pressure off Todd, Carter and Nick.”
Lubarski attributed his success to work in the paint rather than shooting from long range.
“[I was] attacking the hoop,” Lubarski said. “My shot hasn’t been going in so I decided it’d be better to drive today.”
Crookston took the lead on a basket by Winand with 13 minutes left in the game and led for the first time since leading 3-2.
The Pirates kept the pressure on outscoring the Wolverines 34-26 from that point to win 83-74 and get their record to 6-6.
Hoping to get over .500, the Pirates will play Hawley on the road on Tuesday, January 9 at 7:30 p.m.