Win raises Crookston's record to 3-4 on the season.

The Crookston Pirates boys' basketball team rode strong starts to each half and 20 points each from Carter Bruggeman and Cade Osborn, most of them scored in pounding fashion in the paint, to a 57-43 victory over Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Friday night, in a game played in Lysaker Gymnasium at the University of Minnesota Crookston. The win pushes the Pirates' record to 3-4.

The Pirates started the first half on a 5-0 run and the second half on an 8-0 run. Early on, a couple of threes from Jack Garmen sparked the Pirates, but when the Ponies started chipping away at Crookston's first half lead, trimming it to two at one point, Bruggeman went into beast mode, repeatedly driving hard toward the hoop, making shots, drawing fouls and sinking free throws. Bruggeman scored the Pirates' final 10 points of the first half, sending them into the break with a 25-19 lead.

Coach Greg Garmen credited Jacob Hesby and Brady Butt for contributing quality minutes in the first half when Walker Winjum and Osborn had to head to the bench with foul trouble. He said Jack Garmen's early threes sparked the team, and said Bruggeman's aggressive play in the paint was key, especially after his shots from short range started to fall and he was able to draw fouls.

Bruggeman continued his strong play in the second half, and he was joined by Osborn in providing the bulk of the Pirate scoring. A three-pointer by Walker Winjum gave the Pirates their largest lead of the game, 38-23, and when the Ponies went on a run of their own to cut the deficit almost in half, Bruggeman and Osborn keyed a 6-0 run by the Pirates to help seal the win. The Pirates were also deadly from the free-throw line down the stretch; they were 11-12 overall in the second half.

Garmen said the Pirates' defense was as important as anything in getting past the Ponies. The team's goal was to contain WAO's Brandon Miller, and Garmen said Winjum, Tangquist and Hesby combined to not give Miller a lot of open space. Crookston's defense remains a "work in progress," however, the head coach added.

The Pirates are off until Dec. 27, when they head to Roseau to take on the Rams. W-A-O drops to 2-4 with the loss. The Pirate JV team notched a victory Friday, too, against the Ponies, 46-42.

It was a nice win for the Pirates heading into the holiday break, and Garmen said they'll get some time off from practice to enjoy Christmas and spend time with their families.

"Without much practice time our focus will be getting back in shape (at practice on Dec. 26) after quite possibly eating too much and sitting around too much," Garmen said. "But most of these kids have been playing a sport since August 12 so four days of nothing will probably be good for them. We will find out after the break."