Crookston led by seven in the second half, but could not finish in a 59-48 loss.

CROOKSTON - This roller coaster of a game featured an 11-point deficit for the Crookston Pirates and a seven-point lead, but eventually resulted in a 59-48 loss to the Fertile-Beltrami Falcons. Crookston (3-7) salvaged a rough first half with a buzzer-beating three, went into halftime down five, but suffered a nine minute scoring drought in the second half and lost their fourth straight game.

    “We still had too many turnovers and some unforced errors,” Head Coach Greg Garmen said. “Throwing it away, traveling or carrying it. Different things like that at critical times. Maybe we’ll get a steal, but we’ll turn around and turn it right back over. We need to convert it into something positive.”

    Caden Osborn (Jr. C) scored 20 points for the third straight game to lead Crookston. Nick Garmen (Sr. F) added 12, Jaden Lubarski (Sr. F) put up 10 and Walker Winjum (Jr. G) rounded out the Pirate scorers with six.

    Fertile-Beltrami (8-4) used their big man, Nolan Pinske (Sr. C), under the rim to rack up 18 points. Other top Falcons scorers included Andrew Wadsworth (Sr. G) with 15 points and Dylan Pearce (Sr. F) with 14.

    “[Pinske] was a load and then [Wadsworth] got going later in the game,” Garmen said. “I don’t think [Wadsworth] missed any free throws when we were fouling. We didn’t want to foul him [late in the game], but he had the ball which he should, and we didn’t get it done on him.”

    The Falcons came out with offense on their minds. Michael Stuhaug (Sr. F) kicked off the scoring and Pearce concluded an 8-0 run to start the game. Garmen eventually broke the surge and put Crookston on the board making it an 8-2 game with 14:48 to play.

    Lubarski hit a pair of free throws, and Osborn added his first bucket of the game to bring the Pirates within four, down 10-6. To retaliate, the Falcons put together an 8-2 run with help from Wadsworth, Pinske and Addison McCollum (Jr. G) and increased their lead to 18-8 with the clock showing 10:55.

    Crookston trailed by as much as 11 points down 20-9 when the Pirates went on a run of their own. Three free throws combined from Lubarksi and Garmen along with baskets by Osborn and Lubarski helped to a 7-2 run which allowed the Pirates to creep back with a score of 22-16.

    With 3:47 to play in the first half, Pinske continued his dominant performance with his 10th point to increase the lead to 24-16. Osborn followed with the team’s first three-pointer of the game, and Winjum hit a buzzer-beating trey to close the half and send the teams into the locker room with a 27-22 score favoring Fertile-Beltrami.

    With a new half came a new Pirates team. Garmen, Winjum and Osborn each sank three-pointers to compliment a two by Lubarski, and Crookston took their first lead of the game ahead 32-31. Garmen hit another trey as did Osborn and the Pirates, with 13:59 to play, led 40-33.

    “We came out a little more inspired than the first half,” Garmen said. “We don’t score at will like we would like to. We get a little lead, then we couldn’t hold them in check.”

    Fertile-Beltrami fought back with buckets from Pinske and Pearce and trailed 40-37, but Osborn responded with his fourth three-pointer of the game to extend Crookston’s lead to 43-37 with 12:39 remaining.

    Although his specialty is scoring under the rim, Garmen liked what he saw from his center behind the arc.

    “[Caden’s] been shooting better lately,” Garmen said. “He had a few over at East Side, and he’s shown he can shoot. That helps us to draw their big kid out a little to open it up for some others inside. Our kids struggle to score inside against big kids, and they showed that tonight as well.”

    After Osborn’s trey, the Pirates could not make a basket. Shot after shot either hit the rim or bounced off the backboard and nothing else. With 9:30 left, Stuhaug gave the Falcons their first lead in six minutes, up 45-43. Pearce and Pinske tacked on and helped build a 49-43 lead.

    Osborn went to the bench with three fouls and Fertile-Beltrami added two more to complete a 14-0 run and led 51-43 with 4:17 to go.  

    Desperate for points, Osborn re-entered the game and ended the nine minute scoring drought which put Crookston down 51-45.

    Lubarski completed a three-point play with 3:20 to go, made it a 51-48 game, but the Pirates could score no more, and the Falcons used eight straight free throws to wrap up a 59-48 win.

    “We need all five guys on the floor to click,” Garmen said. “We’re not very smooth yet, and we need to be, whatever that means. Whether it is different people or different people with different stuff to do. We got to be smoother with the ball, keep running our stuff and keep getting the ball to Caden.”

    The Pirates will look to end their four game losing streak when they host Park Rapids on Tuesday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m.

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