Dani Boyle and Gretchen Theis each displayed season-best performances for Crookston with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
CROOKSTON - At one point in the first half, the Crookston Pirates trailed by 16 points to the second-ranked team in class-AA (coaches vote), the Roseau Rams. With 12:52 to play in the game, Crookston still needed to make up 14 points. They did just that with a 22-8 run and five points in 3.5 seconds to force overtime where they ultimately fell 84-78.
The Rams (18-2, 8-0 Section 8AA) brought a 10-game winning streak and an undefeated section record into the matchup. Their closest margin of victory during their streak occurred in a 72-64 win over East Grand Forks, a team who beat Crookston twice this season.
Roseau had not allowed 78 points in a game since an 82-64 loss to class-AAA Alexandria on December 29, 2018.
“We knew that if we could do the things we wanted to do, that our offense would work,” Pirates Head Coach Darin Zimmerman said. “Obviously, we thought we could get stops too. [Roseau] scored eight more points, but they’re a good team. I thought our offense did a nice job of answering. When you’re down 16, that’s what you have to do.”
When a Borowicz scores, it is usually a positive for the Pirates. In this particular contest, Crookston (11-9, 5-6 Section 8AA) faced the Borowiczes of Roseau, Kacie and Katie, who combined for 58 points. Kacie Borowicz (Sr. G) hit 12 two-point field goals and finished 10-for-12 from the charity stripe for 34, and Katie Borowicz (So. G) added 24 points, 16 of which came in the first half.
Emma Waling (Sr. F) provided a third scoring option for the Rams as the senior notched 14 on the night and five of Roseau’s 15 overtime points. Julia Braaten (So. F) and Hanna Mooney (Fr. G) each scored four, and Faith Berger (So. G) and Shavonda Bender (Fr. C) tallied two apiece.
The Pirates usually look to Emma Borowicz (So. G) for a substantial amount of points. However, Borowicz sustained a leg injury during a three-point play which sidelined her for the second half. The injury-shortened game limited Borowicz to four points.
In Borowicz’s absence, Dani Boyle (Jr. G) put together a career night with a season-best 17 points, and Gretchen Theis (Jr. G) matched her top offensive performance with 15 points off the bench.
“They just stepped up, and that’s what I’ve been talking about all year,” Zimmerman said. “I feel like we got multiple kids that can play. On any given night, we can get more and more of them to step up, and I think that’s what I’ve really seen.”
Rachel Hefta (Sr. F) and Kylie Solheim each scored 11, Hayden Winjum (Fr. G) added 10, Kasey Cwikla (Jr. G) put up six and Emma Boll (So. F) rounded out the Pirates' list with four.
Crookston’s 78 points served as their highest mark all season, and the most since they scored 70 against Bagley on January 4.
Roseau’s Borowiczes kicked off the game with seven points for a 7-2 lead. Katie Borowicz then extended the lead to 10-4 with her second three.
The Pirates worked to the rim and used a free throw by Hefta and a Cwikla bucket to trail 10-7. Theis came off the bench and continued the theme of attacking the basket with back-to-back layups which brought Crookston within three down 14-11 with 12:36 to play.
Roseau increased their defensive intensity which led to a number of steals and an 8-0 run capped off with a score by Katie Borowicz for a 22-11 lead.
Emma Borowicz put an end to the Roseau run, but at a cost. The sophomore drove to the rim and drew a foul while making a basket. Borowicz came up slow, and after missing the free throw, exited the game.
Winjum followed with a trey, and Boyle scored five straight Crookston points to cut the deficit to 26-21.
Once the Pirates got within five, their production in the paint halted, and Roseau separated themselves from Crookston once again. The surge started with four points from the Borowicz sisters. Katie Borowicz turned it into a 9-0 run when the sophomore used the perfect amount of spin to convert on a layup. To make matters worse for the Pirates, Borowicz was fouled while shooting and turned it into a three-point play.
Waling completed the 11-0 run, and the Rams held a 37-21 advantage with 2:13 to go in half number one, their largest lead of the night.
Crookston managed to salvage the remaining minutes beginning with a pair of free throws from Boyle. Emma Borowicz added another layup with a foul, but could not hit the free throw. Borowicz did not return to the game in the second half with a muscle injury on the back of her leg.
Cwikla scored the final four points of the half, and Crookston went into the locker room down 37-29.
Boyle expanded on her career night sinking a three out of the gate in the second half. The junior contributed another basket, but the Rams’ Kacie Borowicz countered with four consecutive points, and the lead went back up to 14 at 48-34.
Following scores from Hefta and Boyle, Boll entered the game and provided quality minutes with four points in 2:32. Theis and Hefta combined for six points and, all of a sudden, Crookston found themselves trailing 54-52 with 9:01 to play.
Theis’ first three-pointer of the night later made it a one-point game, and a trey from Solheim, her first points of the game, tied it up at 58-58 with the clock showing 7:02. Fifty-one seconds later, Solheim put in a layup, and the Pirates held their first lead of the game up 61-60.
Immediately after going ahead, the turnover bug found its way back into Crookston’s system. Roseau intercepted passes, picked pockets and took a 69-64 lead with only 23.6 seconds left.
“Everything that we did right prior to [taking the lead], we started doing the opposite,” Zimmerman said. “I think maybe a little bit of it was fatigue. Roseau upped their defense a little bit, but we just didn’t make very good decisions. We got flighty with the ball, and that’s what Roseau is trying to do.”
With 17 seconds to go, Theis instilled hope with her third three-pointer of the game. Zimmerman immediately called a timeout to draw up a scheme for a steal.
Guarding the inbound pass, Hefta stole the ball out of midair and passed it to Solheim who was fouled on a layup attempt. Solheim, the best free throw shooter on the team (79.5 percent), sunk both foul shots and tied the game with 14.3 seconds to go.
With the last possession, Katie Borowicz picked up a rolling ball at half-court, passed the ball, received it back and attempted a three that hit the rim and rolled out of bounds as time expired.
“It was all team defense,” Zimmerman said. “We had some really good defenders trying to lock down the Borowicz sisters. With that being said, I thought everybody stepped up, was in their gap, did a good job of limiting driving lanes and forced them into a long and deep, contested three.”
Waling and Hefta traded baskets to start overtime. Waling and Kacie Borowicz scored the next four, and Solheim hit a line-drive shot for a 76-73 game.
Katie Borowicz put up 16 in the first half, only six in the second, but scored a crucial three-point play to make it a two possession game at 79-73. Braaten added her third and fourth points on free throws to extend the lead to 81-73 with 1:23 to play in extra time.
Crookston worked it back to a three-point game behind a Winjum three and free throws from Solheim, but three straight charity stripe shots by the Rams closed out an 84-78 victory.
The loss brings Crookston to a six-game losing streak. The Pirates have also dropped seven of their last eight games. In this taxing part of the schedule, Crookston's last eight opponents own a combined record of 116-38.
Zimmerman wants the wins, but believes his team is on the right track.
“We just got to stick with it,” Zimmerman said. “We’ve got to trust the process and know we’re right there. Often times, what can happen in the course of the season is you don’t necessarily have the results that you’re hoping for even if you’re playing well. That can cause you to play worse. That would’ve been a huge win for us, but it’s more important that we’re playing really good at the end of the season. We’re not quite there, but we’re getting closer.”
The Pirates will look to end their skid when they host Thief River Falls on Thursday, February 7. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.
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