Braham opened action in the Section 7AA boys basketball playoffs with two victories last week. Up next is a semifinals date with North top-seed Virginia.
The Bombers (25-3), seeded No. 2 in the South, will take on the Blue Devils (24-4) at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, March 17 at the University of Minnesota-Duluth court.
“Virginia is hard to beat. They beat us two years ago for the section title, and we saw them again last summer,” scouted Braham Coach Bob Vaughan. “They have two outstanding players in (seniors) Cavan Stackpool and Mitchl Buck, but they play 10 guys. They just get after it by pushing the ball and playing tough man-to-man defense.
“Whoever gets out of our game will have an absolute war in the title game.”
In the other semifinals will be South top-seed Moose Lake-Willow River (26-2) and North No. 2 International Falls (24-4). The ML-WR Rebels are full of athletes and were a handful when the Bombers got past them 66-62 on the road back on Dec. 18.
The 7AA championship will back at UMD at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 19.
Braham opened the playoffs with a 64-32 win over visiting Hinckley-Finlayson March 9 in a game the Jaguars slowed with long offensive possessions. Ben Thiry and Tyler Vaughan both scored 20 for Braham, with Cameron Braund adding 14 points. Also scoring for the Bombers were Drew Klemz (4), Erik Vavra (3), Anthony Bias (2) and Kyle Grell (1).
Braham 69, Esko 57
The competition picked up mightily in Saturday’s quarterfinals when the Bombers faced South No. 3 Esko at UMD. Braham held just a 28-22 lead at the half as the game was a back-and-forth affair.
Vaughan had 28 points and 8 assists in the game, including knocking down a key three-pointer to open up a gap late. He finished sinking 17-of-18 free throws against Esko which included a perfect run at the line down the stretch.
“Esko is a good team coming out of a really good program. They had three scorers back this season,” said Coach Vaughan. “Our guys played great, great defense to pull out the win.”
Braund scored 15 points, and both he and T. Vaughan led with 9 rebounds. Thiry added 12 points, with offense also provided by Vavra (5), Klemz (4), Bias (4) and Bret Cuda (1).
• The 7AA winner opens Class AA State at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 23 at Williams Arena (U of M campus). The opponent will be the 8AA champ; top seeds still alive are Bagley (27-2) and Perham (26-1).