This team went 4-23 three years ago.

Girls’ Basketball
18-11, 11-7 Section 8AA
Section 8AA Runner-Up

    What an exciting season and final two weeks that was. The Crookston Pirates girls’ basketball team started 10-2, lost eight of nine and still found a way to reach the Section 8AA Championship Game. If not for the Roseau Rams, winners of five straight Section 8AA Championships and the 2017 State Championship, the Pirates might have made their first trip to the state tournament since 2008.

    Eleven years ago, the Pirates reached the state tournament and placed third. The last Crookston team to reach a Minnesota State High School League state tournament came in the form of the boys’ tennis team in 2017 (track true team runs through the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association).

    While a number of Pirates team sports consisting of individual head-to-head matchups or combined individual scores, such as tennis and golf, have qualified for state in the last 11 years, no sport with a team competing as one unit has reached state since that 2008 team.

    In 2016, girls’ basketball owned a 4-23 record. Three years later, here they are competing for a Section Championship. With high school sports, no one team identically resembles another. Players graduate, new ones come in and rosters change dramatically. Finding consistency can prove difficult. The only constant since 2015-2016, when the team went 4-23, is Head Coach Darin Zimmerman.

    After Zimmerman’s inaugural season, the team improved by three games to 7-20. The following year: 13-14. Finally, 18-11 and one game away from state. The players play the game, but Zimmerman deserves as much credit as anyone for the turnaround. Maybe more.        Reaching the Section Championship Game warrants celebration, but doing it as a 10 seed calls for delirium. This team knocked off No. 7 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, No. 2 Park Rapids and No. 3 East Grand Forks en route to the big game. The EGF win was the first for Crookston against East Side since the 2014-2015 season.

    Roseau, who earned the No. 1 seed at state and will play in the State Semifinals Friday, March 15, ended the Pirates’ Cinderella run. The Rams used their Borowicz sister combo, Kacie and Katie, to combine for 52 of the team’s points in the Section Championship Game. The rest of the team totaled 21. In the first round of state, the Borowiczes combined for 70 of the team’s 75 points. Kacie Borowicz (Sr. G)  will play for the University of North Dakota next year, and Katie Borowicz (So. G) is already receiving Division I interest.

    For Crookston, Emma Borowicz (So. G) led the team in season points with 358, but a Pirate win did not solely rest on her shoulders. Three other Pirates scored at least 200 points: Rachel Hefta (Sr. F), Kylie Solheim (Sr. G) and Hayden Winjum (Fr. G). Throughout the season, six different Pirates led the team in scoring in at least one game: Borowicz, Hefta, Winjum, Solheim, Dani Boyle (Jr. G) and Kasey Cwikla (Jr. G).

    Do not expect a one-hit wonder with this team. Solheim and Hefta will graduate and take 14.5 combined points per game with them, but with Borowicz and Winjum entering their junior and sophomore year, respectively, three seniors and Zimmerman running the show, the Pirates are set to contend in 2019-2020.

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For feedback or questions, contact the Times at (218) 281-2730, Nolan Beilstein at (940) 372-8175 or by email at nbeilstein@crookstontimes.com.