PERHAM — The rematch of last season’s Section 8AA championship lived up to the hype as the Fergus Falls girls’ basketball team took on the defending Pelican Rapids Vikings in the section title game Thursday. But unlike the showdown in 2020, the Vikings wouldn’t need a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to top the Otters as the Vikings repeated as section champion with a 52-46 victory.
The two teams hit the court with a state berth on the line. The Vikings had the early advantage, but the Otters would go on a 13-0 run to take an eight-point lead. But as soon as it seemed like the game was working into Fergus Falls’ favor, the Vikings responded with their own 8-0 run to send the teams into the break tied 22-22.
The second half began with the two teams trading baskets, but the Otters built another small lead, giving them control of the game. Pelican Rapids responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to get them back into the game and eventually take the lead. Fergus Falls cut into the lead with an Ellie Colbeck 3-pointer, but the Vikings would go on a 16-3 run and use key free throws to seal the victory.
"Our girls played really hard tonight and Fergus Falls is a great team. Ellie Colbeck is one of the best basketball players in the state of Minnesota and to slow her down is very tough to do, they have Ratz and they have Pearson, they're a very good basketball team and we're very fortunate to come away with the win," Vikings head coach Brian Korf said. "We had to play one of our best basketball games of the year to advance and I thought maybe we didn't play our best game but we played pretty well."
Greta Tollefson led the charge for the Vikings as she scored 30 of the team’s 52 points, going 9-for-13 from the charity stripe and hitting three treys. Teammates Anna Stephenson was the only other player in double figures for Pelican Rapids with 11 points.
"We never gave up, we were down quite a few points there and we just rallied back time after time and our team just works together so well. It was a team effort tonight everyone on the bench, on the court, the fans, everything," Tollefson said. "It feels good, this is every kid’s dream come true here, back to back that's a hard feat to do but it feels good."
Fergus Falls was led in scoring by Ellie Colbeck with 28 points.
"It was a tough last five minutes of the game we just couldn't get the ball to go in the basket and credit to Pelican Rapids they made their free throws and made some tough plays down the stretch," Otters head coach Brad Strand said after the game before addressing his final game as the head of Fergus Falls girls' basketball program. "Great fans, number one thank you to the players and their parents. I was blessed with some unbelievable relationships the last nine years in Fergus Falls, I wouldn't trade it for anything at all. Thirty-one years and that's what you do is build relationships with kids and then you see these kids grow up and get married and have kids and then I'll be coaching their kids and it's just a special time. It's hard no doubt about it to know that I'll have a different role but the kids left everything on the floor tonight and I'm super proud of them."
The Vikings committed 12 turnovers compared to the Otters’ eight.
The Vikings advance to the Class AA quarterfinal round Tuesday at 7 p.m. with site and opponent to be determined Saturday.