The Yellowjacket boys basketball team took a huge step
Tuesday night. The game had little
to do with extending their 11-game winning streak, which they did. It had everything to do with a team
moving on, finding some normalcy, and honoring a fallen teammate.
The Jackets were back on the court Tuesday night for the
first time since junior Zach Gabbard suffered a heart attack Thursday during a
game at D-G-F. He’s still in
critical, but stable condition at the U of M in Minneapolis. They did more than honor him with a
dominating 64-13 win in Barrett over West Central Area.
“Running out for warm-ups gave me the chills,” Jordan Cresap
said. “The support from both teams
was unbelievable. It was one of
the most emotional experiences of my life. We knew Zach was right there with us, and we played our
hearts out in his honor.”
The emotions were running high, in the locker room, on the
court, and in the stands.
“It took a little while,” Jordan Bruhn said of getting his
emotions under control. “The crowd
really appreciated us. It was the
most Perham people I’ve seen on the road.
It was great.”
Mark Schumacher carried Gabbard’s jersey with him during the
pre-game announcements, and the team kept the No. 3 jersey with them on the
bench through the game.
“We felt him there,” Schumacher said. “Coach Cresap said in the locker room,
‘Like the Marines, we don’t leave a man behind. We’re going to put Zach on our backs and carry him the rest
of the year.’ We truly did that
tonight. Everyone in that gym felt
him there with us.”
The Jackets used that energy and dominated from the
start. Nine minutes into the game,
they already had a 20-4 lead. By
halftime, they were up 37-7. In
the second half, they had a 50-9 lead with nine minutes to play when the
running-time “mercy rule” went into effect.
“We talked to Steve, his dad, and his breathing went up
during the game,” Bruhn said. “He
(Zach) knew we were out there for him.
And we knew he was with us.”
Things won’t get easier for Perham from this point forward,
either. They have another road
game on Friday at Pelican Rapids (10-4), before finally getting to play in
front of their home crowd on Saturday afternoon against Maple River (13-2) with
a 4:15 p.m. tip-off.
Schumacher added one of the team’s motto’s, which helps keep
them going, one game at a time.
“Just because you wear the same jersey, doesn’t make you a
team,” he said. “The players, the
fans and the community are the team.
We’re all one.”