When the pass landed in her hands and the clock hit all zeroes, Dani Boyle didn't react.
She let go of the ball, calmly walked away and headed to join her teammates in the handshake line as the home crowd erupted.
It was far from routine, but Crookston girls' basketball survived a late Perham rally to win a big Section 8AA game, 52-49, on Thursday night by closing it in business-like fashion.
The Pirates (15-2, 7-2) took a 43-28 lead midway through the second half before the Yellowjackets (10-6, 7-4) stormed back, cutting it to 48-47 on a Sydney Anderson 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining.
"You could look at them and know that they weren't worried," said Crookston head coach Darin Zimmerman. "That said a lot right there. Obviously, Perham had all the momentum at that point."
Prior to the last five minutes, however, the momentum had been decidedly in the Pirates' favor. They took a nine-point lead in the first half and weathered a similar storm — after Perham went in front 18-16 with six minutes to go in the half, Crookston closed the half on an 8-1 run.
The Yellowjackets threatened immediately coming out of halftime, but the Pirates had an answer with big shot after big shot. Emma Borowicz (Jr., G) drained two 3-pointers and Boyle (Sr., G) and Halle Winjum (8, G) both netted triples of their own.
"We were hard to guard," Borowicz said. "That's what makes it so fun. When everyone can shoot, they can't just focus on one person."
But the Yellowjackets made it interesting, starting by forcing a few Crookston turnovers and finishing a few drives to the basket. Then, the outside shots began to fall, and suddenly the Pirates were on the ropes.
"On the offensive side we needed to play a little bit cleaner, and that was kinda the problem during that stretch," Zimmerman said. "We weren't quite as good defensively, giving up some drives that we normally don't, and then offensively (we were) rushing a bit."
But Crookston was steady when it counted, getting the ball to Borowicz on its next possession after Anderson's triple. Borowicz swished both free throws, and was at the line again after a Perham layup with 30 seconds to go, this time making one of two.
The Yellowjackets, playing for the final shot, worked the ball around methodically, but Borowicz stepped up again, getting her hand in and forcing a jump ball with nine seconds left with the possession arrow pointing to the Pirates.
Perham fouled on the inbounds, and Gretchen Theis (Sr., G) hit one of two free throws, ensuring the Yellowjackets would have one more shot. But with nobody open, they threw it away, leaving Crookston just a successful inbounds pass away from the win.
Hayden Winjum's (So., G) long, one-handed pass to Boyle was inch-perfect, and the Pirates could exhale.
"Gotta give Perham credit," Zimmerman said. "They made some shots down the stretch, but our girls found a way to clamp down at the end."
Borowicz scored 22 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Hayden Winjum scored 10 points, Theis and Kasey Cwikla (Sr., F) scored six, Halle Winjum scored five and Boyle scored three.
Willow Thiel led Perham with 13 points, while Anderson and Katie Johnson both scored 11.
UP NEXT: Crookston is at home next Tuesday, Jan. 28 for a rematch against Roseau (12-3, 7-1 Section 8AA).
The Rams, the five-time defending section champions, beat the Pirates in last year's section title game, 73-58, and handed them their first loss this season, 74-65, in Roseau on Dec. 19.
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