Pirates can't build on strong first half in 73-57 loss to Fertile-Beltrami
Easton Tangquist seemed to realize he had made a mistake. He'd been eyeing a corner 3-pointer for the last few seconds, and had just decided to take it. But with both his feet off the ground, Tangquist suddenly changed his mind.
Maybe it was Rylin Petry's defense. Maybe Tangquist lost confidence for a minuscule interval. Whatever the case, he had no other option but to pass it Brooks Butt, doing so just before his feet landed on the ground and avoiding a double dribble.
Tangquist rolled out to the wing, and Butt passed it back to him. This time, Tangquist had no doubts. He swished the deep three, bringing the Crookston boys' basketball team within two points of Fertile-Beltrami, and on the Pirates' next possession, he canned another.
The pair of treys by the senior point guard gave Crookston its first lead since the opening minutes, and the Pirates went into halftime with a 29-28 deficit and plenty of momentum.
"We've been struggling to keep it tight at the half," said Crookston coach Greg Garmen. "That was good to see us battle and have some fight."
But the Falcons had an answer, spurred by a surge of fast-break baskets off Pirate turnovers midway through the second half. Rylin Petry scored 24 points, Everett Balstad added 14 more and Fertile-Beltrami ran away with a 73-57 win Tuesday at CHS, handing Crookston its ninth straight defeat.
"It's too bad we had to get to halftime, because we were rolling pretty good then and Easton was feeling it," Garmen said. "We needed him to come out and have another half like that and knock down a few more. It didn't happen that way, but I told the kids we couldn't fault their effort."
For most of the Pirates' losing streak, they've barely even kept things close, falling by an average of 26.8 points per game. A 28-23 halftime lead over Park Rapids on Feb. 2 was the only time they got to the break within even double digits.
Tuesday night was a welcome change. Crookston (1-11) alternated baskets with Fertile-Beltrami for the opening six minutes and didn't let the Falcons get any further away than eight points. The triples by Tangquist, who finished with a team-high 19 points, capped off a 14-7 run over the first half's final three minutes.
A major key was the insertion of Tristan Luckow, a sophomore forward, into the starting lineup for the first time. Luckow scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and came up with two steals and blocks each, making an impact with his athleticism and hustle.
"We felt he gives us a different look with some leaping ability and some rebounding," Garmen said. "We wanted to win (the opening tip-off), and he won a jump ball to get us started in the right direction today. He's gonna only get better."
Thanks to Crookston's late surge, the buzz inside the CHS gymnasium was almost tangible when the second half started. But Fertile-Beltrami (10-2) needed only a few minutes to quiet the home crowd.
Derek Sorenson picked off an errant pass and threw an outlet to Petry, who absorbed contact to put home a layup and make it 36-30. Balstad then jumped the passing lane and went the other way for two, and a steal by Petry on the next possession led to a third straight basket off a Pirate giveaway.
A 3-pointer by Jack Garmen (Jr., G) broke up the run but didn't end it. The Falcons continued to excel off steals and on the fast break, and took a 60-42 lead off a 3-pointer by Matthew Sykes.
"We lost guys like three times, we didn't know who we had," Garmen said. "We weren't exactly happy with our kids at that point. We just gotta have the presence of mind to look around and see who's got who. ... We didn't do a very good job. Three times in a row it seemed like they had a guy open under the hoop and we had no idea."
Garmen said the Pirates have to get back to basics, especially when it comes to keeping control of the ball. While Crookston played as good a first half as it has all season Tuesday, it needed to be even better to overcome Fertile-Beltrami's prowess in transition.
"We're not like a high-powered offensive juggernaut, and we gotta work for everything we get," Garmen said. "If we don't hit shots, it's tough. They got some weapons that can score well."
UP NEXT: Crookston hits the road Friday, Feb. 26 to take on Ada-Borup (7:30 p.m.). The Cougars won last season's Section 8A title, beating Fertile-Beltrami in the championship game, but are just 4-6 this season.
Fertile-Beltrami will play at Fosston Thursday. The Greyhounds are 4-6 on the season.
- Points: Easton Tangquist 19, Jacob Hesby 12, Jack Garmen 9, Tristan Luckow 8, Carter Bruggeman 5, Jacob Miller 4
- Team: 20-55 field goals, 6-21 3-pointers
- Points: Rylin Petry 24, Everett Balstad 14, Caiden Swenby 11, Austin Bjerk 8, Kadyn Olson 6, Matthew Sykes 5, Derek Sorenson 4, Justin Solie 1
The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730 or sports editor Jacob Shames at email@example.com.
Follow along on Twitter @crookstonsports and @Jacob_Shames for all the latest stories and live game updates.