GLYNDON — It was easy until it wasn't.
Crookston girls' basketball looked to be on the way to a routine win over an overmatched Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton squad, but the Rebels caught fire from outside to keep the Pirates on edge all game.
Despite 10 DGF 3-pointers, Crookston held on to win, 67-60, on Monday night, hitting eight threes of its own and getting a balanced attack with six players scoring at least seven points.
"We started the game really well," said head coach Darin Zimmerman. "Defensively we were pretty locked in, and they started making some 3-point shots. We had to be a little bit better at contesting and running them off the 3-point line, but overall a good team effort on our part."
The Pirates improved to 17-4 overall (9-4 Section 8AA) with the win, while the Rebels fell to 6-14 (3-11).
Two days ago, the Pirates scored just four points in the first half in a loss to Pelican Rapids. They blew past that in the opening minutes on Monday, taking a 15-5 lead midway through the first half and extending it to 30-14 late.
However, the Rebels got hot from behind the arc towards the end of the half, nailing three 3-pointers in the final minute, including one at the buzzer. They ended the half on a 12-2 run.
"Too many times there was a girl just not guarding somebody, or there were two girls guarding one person," Zimmerman said. "That's a communication thing. It's something that we don't do very often, but we did it too many times tonight."
Crookston got back in business to start the second, using a 14-5 run against DGF's zone defense to take a 46-34 lead. The Rebels weren't going anywhere, though, and their home crowd exploded after they hit a 3-pointer with nine minutes left to cut the lead to 48-43.
The Pirates weathered the initial storm, but led by just four with 2:30 to play after a DGF trey. The Rebels pressed hard, speeding the game up in an attempt to force turnovers and create extra possessions for themselves, but the Pirates didn't commit a live-ball turnover in the last five minutes.
"We made some, missed some, but we got open layups against their scramble defense," Zimmerman said. "I was really pleased with the toughness and maturity at the end of the game."
Zimmerman was also impressed with Crookston's resiliency in bouncing back from a hard-fought, 32-27 loss to Pelican Rapids in Moorhead on Saturday.
"Saturday was a really physical game," he said. " ... We had no practices to prepare for these guys, so that just shows the mental maturity and toughness that they have to just come out and be ready to play and get the job done."
Hayden Winjum (So., G) scored 13 points, one of four Pirates in double figures along with Kasey Cwikla (Sr., F) with 12, Abby Borowicz (Fr., G) with 12 and Halle Winjum (8, G) with 11. Dani Boyle (Sr., G) scored nine points, Jenna Coauette (So., G) scored seven, Emma Boll (Jr., F) scored two and Madison Hoiland (So., F) scored one.
Maria Watt led the Rebels with 22 points, and Peyton Wilson added 10.
"The kids played tough," Zimmerman said. "We talked about that on Saturday, just playing with toughness. Tough teams close out games."
UP NEXT: Crookston will be at home against Thief River Falls on Thursday, Feb. 6. The Pirates beat the Prowlers 50-17 in their first meeting, on Dec. 14 in Thief River Falls.
The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730, Jacob Shames (405) 496-0168 or by email at email@example.com.
Follow along on Twitter @CroxTimesSports and @Jacob_Shames for all the latest stories and live game updates.