Pirates break through against Roseau with 73-29 blowout win
Maybe the Roseau team that stepped on the court Tuesday night wasn't that Roseau — the Roseau that won five straight Section 8AA titles from 2015 to 2019 and a state title in 2017; the Roseau where sisters Kiley, Kacie and Katie Borowicz starred one after another; the Roseau that had won eight straight games against Crookston.
But name and pedigree certainly still count for something. And the Pirates, who have come tantalizingly close to toppling the Rams in recent years, had demons they still needed to exorcise.
That catharsis came via a 73-29 win over Roseau on Tuesday; a wire-to-wire obliteration that improved Crookston to 4-1 on the season and snapped its skid against its northern rivals that had dated back to 2015.
"We've had some really good games with Roseau, especially the last couple years," said Crookston coach Darin Zimmerman. "I think it was important for the girls to finally break through and just play a complete game against them and finish the game out."
That's something the Pirates weren't able to do in an 84-78 overtime loss to the Rams in February 2019. They couldn't do it in that year's section title game, either, falling 73-57 in front of a packed Lysaker Gymnasium. And last January, Katie Borowicz ripped their hearts out with a transcendent 40-point performance, including the game-winning shot in the final seconds, in a 61-60 Roseau win in Crookston.
Borowicz, a four-star recruit and Minnesota commit, averaged 31.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.2 steals and 6.0 assists last season. She was supposed to run it back for one more season with the Rams, but due to uncertainty surrounding high school sports in the time of COVID-19, decided to forego her senior year and join the Golden Gophers ahead of schedule.
The Rams, meanwhile, fell to Hawley in their season opener and lost to Northern Freeze last Friday. Borowicz's departure left them with a gaping hole, one they're still trying to fill.
But Tuesday was, first and foremost, about the Pirates. It was about a Crookston defense that forced 27 turnovers; a fast break that converted steals into baskets with ease; an offense that zipped the ball around and found all the gaps in the Rams' zone defense. Roseau never had an answer. By the time it scored its first points, the game was nine minutes old and the Pirates held a 20-0 lead.
"We were really, really strong defensively and we were able to get in and disrupt a lot of the things they were trying to do," Zimmerman said. "They got some really good shooters, they're still a very good shooting team, and we were able to get out and contest some shots. Rebounding, in the first half especially, we were much improved, putting bodies on girls and limiting them to one chance. ... We're starting to hit our stride a little bit on the offensive side. ... Girls are making shots, we got better spacing, we're attacking better."
Defense has been Crookston's bedrock this season. In its last three games, it allowed 22 points to Warroad, 35 points to Fertile-Beltrami and 18 points to Park Rapids. But Tuesday's 46-point first half was easily its best offensive period of the season.
Emma Borowicz — of relation to Katie — was primarily to thank. In the wake of a torn ACL suffered last January, the senior guard was off to a (relatively) slow start in 2021, her 9.3 points per game well below her 13.7 average last season. But against Roseau, she exploded.
A deep pull-up 3-pointer two minutes before halftime gave Borowicz 17 points, and she didn't stop there. She nailed two of her five 3-pointers after the break, including a banked-in trey that increased the Pirates' lead to 58-18. She subbed out for good with 10 minutes to play, sitting on 27 points, one short of her career-high.
"I looked up towards the end and (my scoring total) was up there," Borowicz said. "Things were falling and it felt good, so I kept shooting."
"She just brought her game to another level," Zimmerman said. "Every game, she's gotten a little bit stronger and a little bit more comfortable. ... It shows up on the scoreboard scoring 27 points, but it's all the little things she did. She rebounded the ball really well, she's looking for open teammates. I thought from a decision-making standpoint, it was probably her best game. She rose her game to another level tonight."
Borowicz led the way, but every Pirate was able to get in the game due to the lopsided score, and all of them contributed. Emma Osborn (Jr., G) cut hard and knocked down open shots to finish with 13 points. Hayden Winjum (Jr., G), who scored 10 points, was "in the right place all the time," according to Zimmerman. Halle Winjum (Fr., G) scored seven points and consistently found open players and ran the offense smoothly. Zimmerman thought Emma Boll (Sr., F) played her best game of the year, with a hard-nosed, physical effort down low.
To be sure, Tuesday night's dominating performance wasn't the statement win it might have been in years past. But with the way Crookston played, it might have beaten that Roseau, too.
Let Emma Borowicz explain why.
"We have to treat everybody the same, and we did that tonight. We came out and we played hard, and it showed."
UP NEXT: The Pirates will go on the road to take on East Grand Forks Thursday, Jan. 28 (7:30 p.m.). The Green Wave are 1-2 this season, and went 11-16 last year.
Crookston swept EGF in three meetings during the 2019-20 season, including a 33-27 win in Crookston in the first round of the Section 8AA playoffs.
- Points: Emma Borowicz 27, Emma Osborn 13, Hayden Winjum 10, Halle Winjum 7, Abby Borowicz 6, Emma Boll 6, Amelia Overgaard 4
- Team: 25 field goals, seven 3-pointers, 16-28 free throws
- Points: Hannah Mooney 10, Julia Braaten 5, Morgan Boroos 5, Nevaeh Fletcher 4, Shavonda Bender 3, Anya Severson 2
- Team: 12 field goals, one 3-pointer, 2-6 free throws
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