Bombers survive to reach championship

Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow powered to the hoop against the Lions' Leah Szabla. Kelsey hit 8-of-8 free throws in the second half.

In a battle of attrition, the Braham girls held strong at the end to fend off tall Providence Academy 59-50 in the Class AA State semifinals March 18 at the Target Center. The victory locks the Bombers into a classic rematch with Minnehaha Academy in the 2 p.m. championship Saturday, March 19 back at the Target Center.

Minnehaha Academy defeated Sauk Centre 50-43 in the other semifinals. The Redhawks will be gunning for a second-straight “AA” title after they defeated the Bombers in 2010.

Friday night, Braham held a 16-8 lead in the first half before going into the break ahead just 21-20, hitting only 2 of 13 three-point attempts. But in the second half, the Bomber eyes got dialed in two ‘3s’ apiece knocked down by Becca Dahlman and Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow. When Liz Anderson nailed another ‘3’ with under six minutes to play, Braham was comfortably ahead 47-36 and going into the clock-eating mode.

Junior Austyn Eng filled in great down the stretch, sinking a key FT with 30.1 left.

Then things started getting a little nuts. Anderson, the senior point guard, twisted her ankle and was taken out of the game in pain. Soon after, both Becca and Hannah Dahlman picked up their fifth foul. Austyn Eng picked up ball-handling slack, and she hit three throws down the stretch, including one with 30.1 seconds remaining which made it a three possession game. KSG grabbed one more big defensive rebound, hit two more free throws and the game was finally decided.

“Our bench players had to step up a lot, and congratulations to them because they proved to everyone they could do it. I couldn’t be more happy,” said Sorenson-Giffrow walking off the court. “Providence was really big, and they play great ‘D.’ We just kept running the offense and we got on for a while hitting the ‘3s.’ We wanted to make it to the State championship, and we want to win it.”

Becca Dahlman led Braham with 26 points, with Sorenson-Giffrow scoring 17. Guard Leah Szabla paced the Lions with 16 points before fouling out with 2:30 to go. More scoring for Braham: Anderson 6, Hannah Dahlman 5, Eng 3, Katie Nickles 2.

A huge factor in the victory was the board work performed by the Bombers– owning a 36-29 edge with great positioning and desire. Nickles pulled down 10 rebounds, followed by H. Dahlman with 6 and B. Dahlman with 5. Braham’s ability to get to the line resulted in making 26 FTs to Providence’s 11.