The Pelican Rapids boys basketball team hosted the Minnesota National Bank Holiday Classic last week and kicked it off by hosting New York Mills on Wednesday night. 

The Vikings started off quickly as they raced out to a 29-11 lead with ten minutes left in the first half. They hit a bit of a scoring drought from there as the Eagles had a 6-0 scoring run in the last minute to close the gap to 36-28 at the half. 

Pelican Rapids slowly pulled away in the second half to come away with a 74-49 opening-round victory. 

Ian Fahje pictured here, along with Charlie Larson, were named to the All Tournament team following the Dec. 29-30 event in Pelican Rapids.

“After not playing a game in over a week, we expected this one to be a little sloppy at times and it definitely was,” head coach John Gullingsrud stated. “We played well in the first eight minutes of the game as we forced some turnovers that we were able to convert in transition and also shot the ball well in the halfcourt. We just hit a lull offensively the second part of the first half and the start of the second half, but eventually we were able to pull away as the guys continually played with a lot of energy.”

Four score double digits against NY Mills

Four Vikings reached double figures in scoring on the night, led by Ian Fahje’s 15 points. Charlie Larson had 13, and both Tanner Tollerud and Luke Sjolie had 10. Larson, Fahje, and Hunter Williams each had 5 rebounds, with Williams also leading the team with 6 steals. Tollerud and Williams both had a team-high 4 assists. 

As a team, Pelican Rapids shot 30-64 (47%) overall from the field and made 10-28 (36%) of their three-point attempts. 

They outrebounded New York Mills 31-20 and forced the Eagles into 34 turnovers.

Pelican boys fall to West Central 

With the win, the Vikings advanced to the championship game to face the West Central Area Knights. 

West Central jumped out to an early 9-4 lead, but Pelican Rapids responded with an 8-0 run to take a 12-9 lead of their own. 

The rest of the first half was back and forth, with the Vikings’ Ethan Sjostrom hitting a three at the buzzer to stake the home team to a 30-26 halftime lead. Pelican Rapids would hold the lead for the majority of the second half, with their biggest coming at 48-39 with eight minutes to go in the game. 

They were up 59-54 with three minutes to go when the Knights hit back-to-back threes to take their first lead of the second half, 60-59. The Vikings were unable to respond as West Central posted a 64-62 win to take home the tournament championship.

Free throws propelled Knights past Viking boys 

Jayden Ripley puts a shot up for Pelican Rapids, in action against New York Mills Dec. 28. In the background, Ethen Sjostrom, #5

“This was a tough loss as we felt like we played well enough to win but West Central hit some big shots down the stretch and made some other winning plays that we just weren’t able to overcome,” coach Gullingsrud said. “We shot the ball well tonight but overall, they were the tougher team as we only attempted 3 free throws in the game while they got to the line 21 times and made 14.”

Charlie Larson led the Vikings in scoring with 14 points, while Luke Sjolie and Ian Fahje both chipped in 11. Fahje also had a team-high 9 rebounds and 6 blocks, and Hunter Williams had 8 rebounds and 2 steals. Treyvon Benson led the way with 6 assists, and Tanner Tollerud had 5. Pelican Rapids shot 25-51 (49%) overall from the field and made 12-25 (48%) of their threes. 

The two teams were dead even with 29 rebounds each.

Pelican Rapids is now 6-2 on the season, and they will hit the road for two section 8AA games this week as they travel to East Grand Forks on Tuesday night and Perham on Friday night..