Lady Vikings victorious over Fergus Falls for second straight year, earning trip to state tourney
Grandstands half empty, the pandemic lowered the temp and reduced the fever of March Madness–somewhat.
Pelican Rapids basketball fans were fewer in number—but as loud and proud as ever March 25.
The Lady Vikings stunned the Fergus Falls Otters for the second consecutive year to win the Section title. The 52-46 win sent the girls basketball team to the Minnesota state tournament again. Last year, Pelican defeated Fergus 43-41 in the final seconds.
David overcoming Goliath has become on over-used description for Coach Brian Korf’s team’s successes 2020-21.
But, it is an appropriate one.
Enrollment at Fergus Falls grades 9-12 is 588 students—more than double Pelican’s 244 student numbers.
There was no “home court advantage” for the title game, held at Perham. And, with COVID restrictions, the maximum capacity was 250—in a facility with nearly 2,000 capacity. Each school was allowed 125 comrades in the stands.
“It is definitely a different atmosphere,” said Pelican Activities Director Derrick Nelson. “If these Section games were at Concordia, the fieldhouse would be packed.”
Though fewer in number than pre-pandemic years, the student section was fanatical. Students were grouped from each school, behind each basket.
“Our student section was awesome…It really energized the girls,” said Nelson. Especially during a pandemic season, which forced light student and fan attendance all year.”
The team was well aware that thousands more were cheering them on, viewing the game on computer screens all around the nation.
Leading the Lady Vikings to the victory was Greta Tollefson scoring 30 points—with 21 in the second half, including eight crucial points at the free throw line in the final minutes.
While the spotlight may have been on Tollefson, both she and Coach Korf were quick to credit the entire team. The squad, which includes seven seniors who have the distinction of two consecutive state appearances, and a record of 80 wins and four losses over the past three seasons.
“There were a lot of girls who didn’t see the floor tonight, but they’ve been with us all the way and cheered us on as a team,” said Tollefson, who also commended the Pelican area community for its support.
Korf stressed the importance of the entire team, in practice sessions and their enthusiasm from the bench.
“Awesome ride,” is how proud father Darren Tollefson described his daughter’s basketball career. At this stage, it appears she will be playing basketball for Concordia-Moorhead, where her former teammates Kalie Isaman and Maddie Guler are playing.
“We could see it in her at a young age—she had the drive and ambition early on,” said Darren Tolleson of his daughter, who will finish her career on the school’s top ten list in scoring and rebounding.
The good news for basketball fans in Pelican Rapids, and across the state, is relaxed restrictions on capacity.
Beginning April 1, more spectators will be allowed at Minnesota venues—and the Lady Vikings would love nothing more than to have fans in the stands, if they win the first round, March 30, and travel to the Twin Cities Target Center for the second round, next week.
PHOTO BY LOUIS HOGLUND