Pirates shoot down Rebels for 70-35 win
Halle Winjum heard her coach's pleas.
"You're a really, really good shooter," Darin Zimmerman told her. "You know what's a good shot for you, what's a good shot for us. You gotta look for your shot."
Like she did when she flew in to grab an offensive rebound, took two step-back dribbles to gain separation, found herself open on the left wing and swished a 3-pointer that put Crookston up by 40 with eight minutes to play and gave her a new career-high of 22 points.
"Last game, Z got on me for not shooting enough," Winjum said. "I wanted to try to get some more shots off when I was open. ... I was happy with how I played and how many shots I took, just being more active on offense and wanting to score."
Winjum's hot shooting propelled the Pirates to their sixth straight win, a 70-35 romp over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in a Section 8AA game Monday night at home.
But the freshman guard's career night was only a microcosm of what her team did well.
In Crookston's 52-24 win at East Grand Forks last Thursday, Zimmerman was frustrated with how his team too quickly defaulted to trying to score inside. The Pirates weren't swinging the ball around, picking the defense apart and hunting open shots around the 3-point arc. They were banging their heads against the wall, blind to the outside.
Ultimately, Crookston (6-1, 5-1 section) showed a bit more patience down the stretch, ending the game on a 26-0 run thanks to a more methodical, outside-oriented offensive approach. After the game, Zimmerman stressed to all his players — not just Winjum — that this needed to be the norm.
"We have good shooters," Zimmerman said. "We just gotta look for that when it's there in our offense, and not be so impatient to try to force something when it's not there. We got kids that can shoot, and we're able to stretch the floor."
Emma Borowicz was the first to really heed the message. The senior guard, coming off games of 27 and 17 points against Roseau and EGF, respectively, picked up where she left off, burying three triples inside of six minutes to spur the Pirates to a 15-3 lead.
By halftime, the lead was 38-17, thanks to Winjum, Emma Osborn (Jr., G) and Jenna Coauette (Jr., G) also getting into the 3-pointer party.
"We had really good movement on offense, and our passing got the defense off," Winjum said. "We had open girls and we were able to shoot the ball in rhythm, which really helps with our shooting when it's a nice, easy shot."
Crookston didn't take its foot off the gas pedal coming out of halftime, scoring 18 points in the first six minutes of the second half and going on a 25-6 run in all. Winjum, who scored 11 of her 22 after the break, helped engineer the surge. But Borowicz, who finished with 18, and Emma Boll (Sr., F), who had 10 points off of well-worked moves inside, chipped in as well.
Meanwhile, the Pirates and their signature full-court pressure forced upwards of 20 turnovers yet again. Despite the Rebels (2-4) putting a relatively high 35 points — tied for the second-highest point total against Crookston this season — on the board, Zimmerman thought it was one of his team's better defensive games.
"We did a better job of communicating overall," he said. "But I think the biggest thing was we just did a better job of sprinting around. We had active hands, moved our feet better tonight, and we weren't fouling."
While the Pirates have proven they can be competitive in any game thanks to their defense, their nine 3-pointers against DGF show an offense that can do the same when it's firing on all cylinders. And when that happens, they often have Winjum to thank.
"I'm not putting a shot limit or shot total she's gotta be on, but she's a really, really good shooter," Zimmerman said. "She hasn't really shot the ball from the outside much this year. She hasn't even really looked for it. ... (When she shoots), it just adds another dimension to her game and our offense."
UP NEXT: Saturday brings a highly anticipated battle between two of Section 8AA's top teams — Crookston and Pelican Rapids. The Vikings (5-0) won last season's section title, going undefeated during the regular season and section playoffs and finishing with a 30-1 record.
Pelican Rapids' dream season included two wins over the Pirates: a 32-27 neutral-site victory on Feb. 1, and a 49-44 win in the section quarterfinals in Moorhead on Feb. 29 that ended Crookston's season.
"We wanna get them back," Winjum said. "We're gonna be ready to take them on and show them what we got."
"Kids, they don't forget things," Zimmerman added. "But last year was last year. We can't go back and change nothing, but we've got opportunities in front of us this year. and that's one of them Saturday."
- Points: Halle Winjum 22, Emma Borowicz 18, Emma Boll 10, Emma Osborn 8, Ally Perreault 4, Jenna Coauette 3, Abby Borowicz 2, Hayden Winjum 2, Amelia Overgaard 1
- Team: 28 field goals, nine 3-pointers, 5-8 free throws
- Points: Ashley Taves 8, Gabbee Tucker 7, Makayla Winter 7, Megan Thune 6, Peyton Backes 5, Ella Olson 2
- Team: 15 field goals, five 3-pointers, 0-2 free throws
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