senior leaders come up clutch in section showdown
• By Robert Wanek Jr.
For the second consecutive season, Breckenridge has defeated Pelican Rapids in overtime. The Cowboys claimed a 79-74 win on the Vikings’ home court Friday, improving to 7-3 (6-1 8AA) and maintaining the top record in Section 8AA and Heart O' Lakes Conference play as we enter the second half of the regular season.
The tenacious trio of Cooper Yaggie, Jonah Christensen, and Anthony Conzemius combined for 53 points and 31 rebounds. Junior Perez came on late for 12 points, looking confident in the Cowboy victory.
The Vikings raced out to a 10-2 lead, but Yaggie got it going for Breckenridge with a floater and a tough drive to the rack on a 6-0 personal run to make it a 10-8 game. Yaggie finished with 23 points in the contest, while also grabbing eight rebounds and two steals. The senior was ultra efficient, going 8-of-14 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.
In a half with over 25 personal fouls called, Breckenridge took a 36-33 lead. The Cowboys have struggled from the stripe this year, but made 23-of-33 on Friday — good for a 70% rate. Pelican Rapids made just 17-of-35 free throws in the game.
Yaggie struck quickly in the second half, scoring twice in the first 30 seconds as Breckenridge grabbed its largest lead at 42-33. Logan Fahje took that personal, scoring five of his own to reclaim the lead at 45-44 with 11:48 remaining.
Jayden Rutherford would give his team the lead again at the six-minute mark with a three, but Alex Ohm stepped into one of his own as the battle raged on. Ohm was a key contributor on the glass, pulling down five rebounds and playing pesky defense down the stretch. He also led Breckenridge with four assists.
Christensen buckled down and went to work in crunch time. He buried a corner three, then buried his man underneath for an and-one that gave Breckenridge a 61-59 lead with less than four minutes to go. The dynamic post scored 18 points with 10 rebounds, while deflecting multiple Pelican Rapids passes on defense.
With less than a minute left, Christensen put his defender in the spin cycle and tickled the twine with a hook shot that gave Breckenridge a 68-66 lead. The Vikings threw up a wayward three and Yaggie laid out on the floor for the loose ball rebound as the Breckenridge bench called timeout with 23.5 seconds left.
Pelican would get one last possession in the half. They struggled to find a look as time ticked away, but the basketball wound up rolling to the corner into the hands of McHale Korf, who hoisted up a three and was fouled by a group of Cowboys. He missed the front end, but sank his next two free throws to force overtime.
A consistent facilitator for others, Perez can sometimes go unnoticed in his role of floor general --- not in this one. He started OT with one of his five steals in the game, advancing the basketball to Conzemius for a transition two. Then, the 5’7” lightning bolt drove to the rim and used it for protection, finishing on the opposite side away from the Viking bigs.
Tanner Tollerud hit a clutch three with 90 seconds left in OT, but Christensen took Pelican Rapids’ last breath with a pair of free throws that made the score 74-71, a lead Breckenridge wouldn’t relinquish. When the smoke settled, Yaggie was dribbling the ball around the perimeter as the Vikings chased him unsuccessfully and the clock hit zero for a 79-74 Cowboy win.
Conzemius finished with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. He was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line and recorded five deflections. Sebastian Anderson scored seven points with three steals.
Breckenridge currently sits third in the section QRF rankings, narrowly trailing Perham and Fergus Falls. The Cowboys hit the road Tuesday for a matchup with a formidable East Grand Forks (6-5) team at 6:00 p.m. Breckenridge plays 7-of-8 remaining games away from home.