Opening with two victories in the Section 7AA boys basketball playoffs, Braham gets another shot at defending section champion Virginia in the March 15 semifinals at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. That game begins at 7:45 p.m.
In last year’s semis, the Blue Devils worked past the Bombers 80-67 en route to reaching State. Virginia (22-6) is the top-seed out of the 7AA North, while Braham (27-1) is the No. 2 seed out of the 7AA South. The other semifinals pits South No. 1 Esko (24-4) against North No. 2 Deer River (25-3) in the 6 p.m. game at UMD.
“All three teams left besides us are tough. Virginia has rebuilt their team (after graduating key scoring talent) because they have a great program. It will be a very tough game,” noted Bomber Coach Bob Vaughan. “The Esko vs. Deer River game is probably a toss-up. Esko is big; Deer River is quick.”
The Bomber defense was clicking on all cylinders while defeating Moose Lake-Willow River 68-35 in Saturday’s Section 7AA quarterfinals at UMD. Braham limited the Rebels to 12 first-half points and went on to compile 16 steals (5 by Drew Klemz) and force 22 turnovers in the victory.
“Our defense has improved. We have worked hard in practice all year on defense. Giving up 12 points in the first half was very good for us,” added Coach Vaughan. “We didn’t shoot it well against Moose. Hopefully that will improve against Virginia.”
Tyler Vaughan doubled up with 33 points and 12 rebounds, along with finding guys for 7 assists. More scoring was added by Anthony Bias (13), Cameron Braund (6) and Klemz (5). Braund finished with 8 rebounds, with Zach Dahlman pitching in with 6 boards (4 on the O-glass).
• The Section 7AA finals will be Saturday, March 17 (7 p.m.) back at UMD. The winner advances to the Class AA State quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 21. Seeding the top four teams takes place on Sunday.
7AA Opener: Braham 77, Rush City 23
In their last home game of the season, the Bombers again displayed their strong defense while crushing Great River Conference-partner Rush City in the opening round of the 7AA playoffs March 7.
“We played great defense last night against Rush City,” said Braund while celebrating with the Bomber girls at their championship game March 8. “The first six minutes we didn’t allow them to score, and we shut them out in the first six minutes of the second half, too. Our defense was just superb. They are big rivals.”
Vaughan again led the way with 26 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Braund finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Also contributing were Bias (14 points), Shaun Hollenkamp (7 points), and Dahlman (5 points, 6 rebounds).