MOORHEAD — Crookston girls' basketball fell behind by seven, eight and 10 points on separate occasions, and had an answer each time.
But when the Pirates needed just one more, they couldn't find it.
No. 5 Pelican Rapids outlasted Crookston, 49-44, to win Saturday's Section 8AA quarterfinal, played at Concordia College, and end the Pirates' season.
"We played a really good game, Pelican Rapids did too," said coach Darin Zimmerman. "Just came down to a couple possessions, especially in the first half. ... We gave up a run, we weren't as effective defensively as we needed to be and put ourselves behind a little bit."
The game was nip-and-tuck the entire way. The Vikings (27-0) found success scoring in the paint, taking a 12-8 lead before Crookston (21-7) took a 17-14 lead off the strength of several fast break opportunities.
Pelican Rapids then went on a 10-0 run in the latter stages of the first half, and took a 26-17 lead into halftime.
The Vikings maintained a multiple-possession lead throughout the early part of the second half, and took a 37-27 lead on a 3-pointer with 10:37 to play. The Pirates came right back to score the next seven points, sparked by a 3-pointer by Dani Boyle (Sr., G).
Pelican Rapids once again took an eight-point lead with five minutes to play, but Hayden Winjum (So., G) got hot at the right time for Crookston, knocking down two 3-pointers to cut the lead to 46-44.
"Just came down to toughness and will," Zimmerman said. "Putting yourself in a good position and then going as hard as you can to make that play."
The Pirates had a chance to tie in the final minute, but missed a 3-pointer, and the Vikings sealed the game at the line.
"Just very, very proud of our kids to continuing to battle and come back," Zimmerman said. "Really, had the momentum at the end if we could have just gotten one of those shots to go."
Kasey Cwikla (Sr., F) scored 13 points to lead Crookston. Gretchen Theis (Sr., G) scored 12, Winjum scored 10, Boyle scored five and Halle Winjum (8, G) scored four.
Anna Stephensen and Greta Tollfeson were hard to stop inside for Pelican Rapids, scoring 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Saturday marked the last game for Boyle, Cwikla and Theis, the Pirates' three seniors, who combined for 30 of their 44 points.
"Feel especially for the seniors because they put so much time in," Zimmerman said. " ... Our kids will regroup a little, but I know it's gonna be on their minds. They're gonna be hungry, they're gonna be motivated, they're gonna be a little disappointed. They'll be highly motivated to get back."
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