Crookston loses their third in a row and seventh of their last nine.

CROOKSTON - Crookston never found an offensive rhythm, yet stayed within reach of Win-E-Mac until the final buzzer. The Pirates turned a 10-point deficit with 5:18 to go into a potential game-tying situation but could not deliver one more play, and the Patriots escaped with a 46-42 win.

    The Pirates (8-15, 5-10 Section 8AA) struggled shooting in general and often turned over the ball. Their highest accomplishment came in the form of free throws where they went 10-for-11. The Patriots only shot 11-for-20 on the night, but eight of their second half points came from the charity stripe.

    Win-E-Mac (19-4, 11-2 Section 8A) brought a substantial size advantage into the game. They carried 10 players who stood six feet or taller including a 6-foot-8-inch center, Brekken Lindberg (Sr.).

    However, and for whatever reason, the Patriots did not repeatedly attack the rim at first. Lindberg did not record a single point in half number one. But the senior did add seven in the latter half as Win-E-Mac began to find a groove under the basket.

    “Kids figured out to keep them out of the middle,” Pirates Head Coach Greg Garmen said. “[The Patriots] like to get it in the middle high-low with their two big guys. We did a good job stopping that. We just can’t score.”

    The Patriots extended their winning streak to 12 in a row while Crookston dropped their third straight.

    Gavin Walker (So. G) topped the Patriots’ scoring sheet with 14. Bryer Strom (So. G) notched 11, Mason Spry (Sr. G) and Lindberg each scored seven, Joey Revier (Sr. C) tallied five and Dustin Osland (Jr. F) hit two crucial free throws in the final minute.

    On Crookston’s side, Caden Osborn (Jr. C) put up 14 before fouling out with 1:48 to play as the Pirates trailed by three. Nick Garmen (Sr. F) followed at 11, Walker Winjum (Jr. G) totaled eight, Jaden Lubarski (Sr. F) contributed six and Jack Garmen (Fr. F) provided three.

    “Not many kids can take it inside against bigger kids,” Greg Garmen said. “We were getting them blocked all the time so then we get shy and can’t attack like we can against a normal-height kid. It makes it tough, because they’re extending their defense, you’re shooting from further out, and it’s tough if you’re not shooting well.”

    Jack Garmen opened up the scoring with a trey and his brother, Nick, improved the lead to 5-0 on a pair of free throws. The Patriots countered with an 8-3 run behind four points from Strom and tied the game at 8-8.

    On the ensuing possession, the Pirates held the ball for over 2:30 and ended it in a turnover. That giveaway sparked a whole slew of mismanaged possessions. Win-E-Mac used the extra chances for five straight points by Strom and Walker and led 13-8.

    Spry became an offensive force for the Patriots and scored five points in a row to award his team a 20-14 lead with 54 seconds left in the half.

    After a defensive stop, Nick Garmen attempted a buzzer-beating three-pointer from half court. The shot missed by a mile, but Garmen managed to draw a foul. The senior sunk the trio of free throws with 2.5 seconds on the clock, and Crookston went into halftime down 20-17.

    The Patriots used points from Strom, Lindberg, and Revier as part of a 7-0 run to begin the second half, a stretch the Pirates never fully recovered from. The basket by Lindberg, was the first by the 6-foot-8-inch center of the game.

    Crookston toyed with a comeback, but Win-E-Mac always answered. Lubarski cut the deficit to 29-22 on a trey, and Walker retaliated drilling a three of his own.

    Trailing 36-26 with 10:37 to play, Osborn and Nick Garmen put up back-to-back buckets and chipped the Patriots’ lead to six. Following two free throws by Revier, Nick Garmen sunk the team’s third three of the game for a 38-33 score.

    Win-E-Mac, like many times before, halted Crookston’s attacks and produced to extend their lead back to 10 at 43-33. This time, they utilized Lindberg and Walker.

    “In the second half, [Lindberg] had a few I felt we could’ve fought with him and get a few charges,” Greg Garmen said. “But we didn’t, he gets a bucket, and all of a sudden, we’re down. We couldn’t find an easy bucket anywhere.”

    Osborn, who wore four fouls at the time, stole a pass and converted on a layup on the other end. Winjum scored the next four points, and the Pirates trailed only 43-39 with 2:35 remaining.

    Winjum’s last two of his four points stemmed from free throws, the only attempts by the Pirates in the second half.

    “We needed someone to turn the corner and at least go attack them and try to draw fouls,” Greg Garmen said. “That hurt. We’ve got to find a way to get there. Small or big, you got to go at them.”

    Osborn fouled out diving for a loose ball with 1:48 to go, and Crookston was left without their leading scorer on the night. Osland used the opportunity to cash in on two free throws, his first and only points of the game.

    Desperate for a score, Lubarski nailed a three as the clock showed 15 seconds left to make it a 45-42 contest. Crookston fouled Walker immediately, and the Patriots’ top scorer for the evening missed both free throws.

    Win-E-Mac had three fouls to give and used one of them at five seconds left. Crookston’s play after the inbound pass never developed forcing Nick Garmen to shoot a Hail Mary three that hit nothing. Walker made a free throw on the other end to seal the 46-42 victory for the Patriots.

    Greg Garmen said he did not remember how the last offensive play went awry.

    The Pirates will play in their final regular season home game on Thursday, February 21 against Roseau. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

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