Braham to defend 7AA title against Esko

The Braham girls are hitting on all cylinders after they cruised to wins in their first three playoffs games. The Bombers aim to claim their third straight Section 7AA championship when they face Esko in the title game Thursday, March 10 (7 p.m.) on the University of Minnesota-Duluth court.

The Eskomos, led by senior scorer Keely Deadrick and 6’8” sophomore center Savanna Trapp, needed a big rally to get past Mora 56-54 in an overtime quarterfinals game on Saturday. Esko, the No. 2 South seed, then handled Eveleth-Gilbert 69-31 in the March 8 semifinals.

The Eskomos gave the Bombers a great game in last year’s 7AA finals, but Braham took it to them 83-46 in a Feb. 17 non-conference game.

Braham 111, Hinckley-Fin. 26

In the March 2 playoff opener at home, the South top-seed Bombers torched the Jaguars for the third time this season. Becca Dahlman scored 40 points to lead Braham, followed by Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow (20), Liz Anderson (15) and Kayla Nickles (12).

Braham 65, Rush City 35

As expected, GRC rival Rush City (18-6) gave the Bombers their toughest game in their half of the 7AA brackets. Playing Saturday afternoon at UMD, Braham experienced first-half foul trouble, and the Tigers were within 34-20 at halftime.

The Bombers torqued up the defensive pressure in the second half, creating a total of 33 turnovers for the Tigers in the game. Following a couple steal-and-layups by B. Dahlman, the Bombers lead grew to 57-32 with under five minutes to play.

“We played Rush City twice during the regular season and knew they were a good team. We played better defense in the second half; our athleticism and quickness took over,” said Bomber Coach Tim Malone. “We were pretty pleased with the win despite a lower shooting percentage. But credit RC’s defense for some of that, and we had to adjust again to the conditions at UMD. It’s a big arena with a longer floor, so fatigue sets in a little quicker.”

B. Dahlman scored 19, Anderson 14, Sorenson-Giffrow 12 and Hannah Dahlman 9 against the Tigers. Katie Nickles, the Dahlmans and Sorenson-Giffrow all had 6 rebounds, and Anderson dished 9 assists in the victory.

Braham 81, International Falls 31

Road-tripping back to Duluth Tuesday night, March 8, the Bombers led 35-15 at halftime and kept riding the Broncos to a 50-point victory in the 7AA semifinals. Braham bolted on a 26-3 run to start the second half, quickly spinning out points off International Falls’ turnovers.

B. Dahlman again led the Braham scoring with 31 points, adding 7 rebounds. H. Dahlman scored 19 and passed the ball well in the half-court offense. Sorenson-Giffrow delivered 14 points, with 6 points each coming from Anderson and Kayla Nickles.

State tourney begins March 16

The 7AA winner opens Class AA State at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 16 at Williams Arena (U of M campus). The opponent will be the 8AA champ, either Pequot Lakes (27-1) or East Grand Forks (24-5).