Pirates make statement, cruise to 49-34 victory over Pelican Rapids
PELICAN RAPIDS — On paper, it seemed Crookston and Pelican Rapids had another intense, down-to-the-wire battle in store Saturday.
The two teams played twice last season, and both games qualified as slugfests. The Vikings won 32-27 in Moorhead on Feb. 1, 2020, and eliminated the Pirates with a 49-44 win in the section quarterfinals at Concordia College in Moorhead four weeks later.
But on this Saturday, Pelican Rapids never led.
Crookston used a 10-0 run at the beginning of the second half to take complete control, rolling to a 49-34 win over the defending Section 8AA champion Vikings and staking its claim to sectional superiority.
"They weren't afraid of anything," said Crookston coach Darin Zimmerman of his team. "They just came out, they made plays, they challenged, and ultimately, that was one of the biggest differences today."
The first half played out like a battle between two of the best defenses in Section 8AA. The Pirates — who allow fewer points per game than all but one other team in Class AA — didn't allow a point for the first six minutes, taking a 7-0 lead sparked by a 3-pointer by Emma Borowicz (Sr., G).
Pelican Rapids' Greta Tollefson got her team on the board with a three of her own, but the Vikings came no closer than one possession. Borowicz knocked down two more triples, and Crookston (7-1, 6-1 section) pushed the lead back to 20-10 three minutes before halftime.
In the waning seconds of the first half, Pelican Rapids' Morgan Korf dribbled out of trouble and splashed a 25-footer through the net, bringing her team within 21-16. But any momentum the Vikings might have gained from Korf's heave, Crookston extinguished rapidly.
Right out of halftime, Abby Borowicz (So., G) knocked down two 3-pointers and Halle Winjum (Fr., G) hit another, pushing the Pirate lead to 31-16. Emma Osborn (Jr., F) scored five straight points, with a 3-pointer and a nifty cut to earn a layup. Winjum then laced a deep three to put Crookston up 41-23, its largest lead of the game, and bring the Pirates' bench to eruption.
"We said that we were going to up our intensity even more than we had," Emma Borowicz said. "We wanted to make sure there was no coming back."
Indeed, there was no coming back for the Vikings (6-1, 4-1). While they came into Saturday having not lost a regular-season game since Dec. 18, 2018, they spent the last nine minutes desperately chasing the ball around the 3-point arc, as Crookston coolly passed the ball around to kill time and occasionally score. Pelican Rapids never mounted a serious challenge.
"One of the things we talked about as we started our offense, you just gotta make the first easy pass," Zimmerman said. "You don't have to make the scoring pass on the first pass, you gotta make the first easy pass, and we got kind of established on that end. Defensively, we were strong throughout, and that just fueled us and motivated us the entire half."
While most of the Pelican Rapids gymnasium was silent by the end, the Pirates' locker room needed only one word to describe it, courtesy of Winjum: "hype."
And after a seventh straight win — a win that was never in doubt, and a win over the team that ended Crookston's playoff run last season, no less, that atmosphere couldn't have been more deserved.
"We still got a lot of tough teams coming up next few games," Winjum said. "But if we play like we did tonight and keep it going, we're gonna have no problems sticking with all the teams that are ahead of us."
UP NEXT: The Pirates are off until Friday, Feb. 12, when they'll travel to No. 9 Fergus Falls (4-3). The Otters went 25-5 last season, losing in the Section 8AA championship game to Pelican Rapids on a buzzer-beater.
Pelican Rapids 16-18—34
- Points: Emma Borowicz 13, Halle Winjum 13, Abby Borowicz 8, Emma Osborn 8, Hayden Winjum 5, Ally Perreault 2
- Team: 18 field goals, eight 3-pointers, 5-7 free throws
PELICAN RAPIDS STATS
- Points: Greta Tollefson 12, Ellie Welch 7, Anna Stephenson 6, Morgan Korf 6, Chloe Paulson 3
- Team: 11 field goals, five 3-pointers, 7-7 free throws
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