Nick Garmen's 30 points led the way for the Pirates' second straight victory.
The Crookston Pirates could not miss from behind the arc, Nick Garmen (Sr. F) scored 30 points and the Pirates handled the Warroad Warriors with a 79-65 win.
After Garmen’s 30 points, Jaden Lubarski (Sr. F) scored 14 followed by Caden Osborn (Jr. C) with 11 and Josh Bernia (Jr. G) completed the double digit scorers list with 10. Also contributing points were Walker Winjum (Jr. G) with eight, Brady Butt (Jr. F) with three and Chris Kazmierczak (Sr. G) with two.
Crookston’s offense from tip-off featured a three parade. The first four came from Garmen on identical plays and the Pirates roared ahead for a 16-7 lead in the first four minutes of the game.
The Pirates seemed content with letting the Warriors shoot as a decent number of Warroad's shots hit the rim and never found the net. Mix the Warriors’ shooting woes with their turnover-prone offense and Crookston had little to worry about.
“We did want to pack the post and keep them from getting any easy buckets,” Lubarski said.
Following Garmen’s four treys, Osborn hit a shot from behind the arc and extended the lead to 20-9. On the ensuing Warroad possession, Osborn tipped a shot, grabbed it himself and rushed down the court to put in a layup and draw a foul for a three-point play.
“Over at Bagley, we wanted to push the ball a little bit and it worked early and we got away from it,” Head Coach Greg Garmen said. “So we had a couple days of practice and said let’s get going and get Nick and Jaden up the wings. Josh and Walker got them the ball and they were shooting well. That helped open it up inside for Caden at times and everyone got into the flow.”
When Crookston decided not to shoot from deep, they handed the ball off to Bernia who used swift moves to notch buckets on layups. All of Bernia’s eight points in the first half came from the paint.
Winjum took part in the Pirates’ nine first-half threes knocking down a pair of treys with his last of the first half giving Crookston a 38-18 lead with 5:22 to go.
The Pirates slowed down their play slightly in the final minutes of half number one, but still managed 12 more points courtesy of free throws and points in the paint from Bernia and Kazmierczak for a 50-26 lead at halftime.
Immediately after the beginning of the second half, Warroad increased their pace of play and although the Pirates led by 24, they felt the need to match the Warriors speed.
“It was an interesting second half,” Garmen said. “It seemed to get tight, then I’d look up and it was at 20. So we just kept playing and I wanted to be a little more patient at times. We weren’t, but it all worked out in the end.”
Osborn and Lubarski each knocked down a trey for a 56-32 score and kept Warroad from climbing back any closer. Lubarski scored only four points in the first half, but played a crucial role in maintaining the Pirates’ lead as the senior contributed eight in the second half including four points from the charity stripe.
Each team traded points with the Pirates scoring less, but just enough to keep a healthy advantage. Crookston committed only six team fouls in the first half, but the Warriors reached double bonus with seven minutes left in the game and Osborn fouled out with 7:31 to play.
“We just wanted to take better shots and we struggled with that a little bit, but we played some pretty good defense and just kept shooting,” Lubarski said. “Both teams got into double bonus so free throws were a big part and we made more than them and that was a huge difference down the stretch.”
After Osborn reached his fifth foul, the Pirates still led 66-47 and used 12 straight free throws to put away any doubt and close out a 79-65 win. Two of the free throws came with 1:11 to play when Garmen drew a foul and used the two shots from the line to reach 30 points.
Given all that occurred, the Pirates still won by 14 points and Garmen credited his team for battling various circumstances.
“We hit free throws, they hit free throws, it got a little sloppy with all the fouls and slowed things down,” Garmen said. “[Warroad] was pressing a little more, but nonetheless, the kids hung in there.”
The win serves as Crookston’s second in a row and improves their record to 2-1. The Pirates will next play on Saturday, December 15 against Thief River Falls at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
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