Pulling away early in the second half, the Perham Yellowjackets took control and would hold off Redwood Valley 73-58 March 20 in a State Class AA quarterfinal match-up which was held at Williams Arena.
The Cardinals – who fell 66-56 to Esko in the consolation semifinals Thursday night in St. Paul – wrap up the season with a mark of 16-13.
Despite not picking up a win, it was a nice showing at the highest level by a Cardinal team that overachieved on its way to earning a state tournament berth.
Wednesday night the Cards played a solid first half against Perham (30-1), racing out to an 8-1 lead on three pointers from Cole Woodford and Bronson Smith and a lay-in down the middle from Smith.
The Yellowjackets would respond, however, with a 22-5 run to take a 23-13 lead with 5:24 left in the first half. With the game starting to slip away, the Cards responded with an 11-2 run that included three pointers from Smith and Woodford and a jumper from Kyle Huhnerkoch.
The Yellowjackets would take momentum into the half on a three by Carter Cresap in the waning seconds to give Perham a 28-24 lead at the break.
Smith’s lay-up to open the second half cut the deficit to just two at 28-26, but the Yellowjackets would then take over from there, upping the lead to 16 at 51-35 with 7:10 to play. The Cards would cut the lead to 12 but would not get any closer.
Despite being double and triple teamed, Woodford capped off a memorable career for the Cards with a game-high 23 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Huhnerkoch went 6-of-7 from the floor on the way to 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. Smith finished with 10 points, Bryant Haas had five points and three assists, Alex Lang added five points, two assists and two steals, Colin Wells had two points and Connor Josephson added one point, five rebounds and five assists.
The Yellowjackets had four players in double figures led by Charlie Rasmussen with 19 points and four boards. Finn Diggins added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Josh Jeziorski added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The Cardinals shot over 50 percent from the floor (24-of-47) but had just five free throw attempts (going 3-for-5) compared to the Yellowjackets who were 24-of-35 from the line. The Yellowjackets also outrebounded the Cardinals 36-21.
The Cardinals say goodbye to a nice group of seniors that include: Woodford, Huhnerkoch, Wells, Smith, Brennan Sander, Kyle Lechner, Michael Mace, Josiah Hultquist and Winterhawk Old Rock. Eight of the nine have the feather in their cap of leading the Cards to state in both football and boys basketball.
The Cards do have some talent returning in Haas, Carter Guetter, Josephson, Lang and Carson Woodford.
The Redwood Valley boys and girls basketball teams advanced to state in the same season for the first time since 1977.