Emma Borowicz led the scoring with 20 in Crookston's win.
Crookston did not go on a 17-0 run this time, but did manage to pull out the win against Hawley 51-44. Freshman guard Emma Borowicz scored 20 points for the second consecutive game and the improved defense of the Pirates in the road win gave Crookston a record of 11-11.
“On both ends of the floor we were doing things better than we had been,” Head Coach Darin Zimmerman said. “We were moving the ball a lot better and attacked at good times rather than trying to force. We passed the ball around enough to create some opportunities.”
Complimenting the performance of Borowicz were senior guard Jaeden Lizakowski and eighth grade guard Hayden Winjum who each scored nine.
Senior guard Bailey Folkers scored tallied five, junior guard Kylie Solheim notched four, and junior forward Rachel Hefta and sophomore guard Kasey Cwikla each put up two points.
With the 20 points against Bemidji and Hawley, Borowicz now averages 10.7 points a game this season, which leads the team, and has scored at least 20 points in four different games.
“She did a great job of attacking and set up some outside opportunities because of that,” Zimmerman said. “She shot high percentage and just had a very good offensive game.”
Along with Borowicz’s contribution, Lizakowski’s points per game increased as she averaged 9.4 points per game in the last five contests which ranks second on the team.
The victory marks Crookston’s seventh win by a margin of 10 points or less. When the game is decided by 10 or less, the Pirates own a record of 7-4.
After one half, the Pirates led 30-24 and played with a lead the rest of the way scoring 21 in the second half to Hawley’s 20.
“When we were playing with a lead, it was about getting stops and making sure they didn’t score anything easy,” Zimmerman said. “They started putting pressure on us so it became about taking care of the ball and hitting free throws at the line.”
The defense of the Pirates showed improvement in comparison to a skid that saw them lose four of five.
Defensively, the Pirates perform their best when holding their opponents to under 50 points. When their opponent fails to reach 50, Crookston owns a record of 8-2. On the contrary, when their opponent exceeds 50 points, the Pirates drop to 2-9.
The last time Crookston won a game in which they allowed over 50 points came on January 13 against Hibbing when the Pirates won 59-53. The only other time took place against Barnesville on January 4. Both games were played at home.
“Defensively, we just moved our feet a lot better tonight. We contested shots a lot better and rebounded pretty well tonight,” Zimmerman said.
According to Zimmerman, the Pirates currently sit in a position to receive the five or six seed in the upcoming section tournament. The win over Hawley proves important as Crookston now possesses the tiebreaker.
With four games remaining, Crookston will play three of them at home. After the game against Hawley, the Pirates played 13 away games and only seven home games with two neutral site contests mixed in. On the road, the Pirates play 7-6 with a 3-4 record in their own gym.
Their first game comes against Ada-Borup on Thursday, February 15 at 6 p.m. The next day, they go up against Perham at 7:30 p.m. After a two day break, the Pirates, in their final home game, come back to face Stephen-Argyle on Monday, February 19 at 7: 30 p.m. Then four days later they play Breckenridge on the road in the regular season finale.
Crookston has yet to play either of the four teams this season, but Zimmerman does not see a problem and knows what his team needs to accomplish to win.
“I think the most important thing is no matter who we play, we’ve just got to be playing good basketball,” Zimmerman said. “Tonight was the first step to getting there. For the most part, it’s just playing a more complete game. Both of the losses we had last week, we had a couple stretches where we just didn’t play very good basketball. Tonight, we didn’t play a perfect game, but we didn’t have any of those bad stretches and we made the other team earn their points.”