Braham returned to the Target Center to defend its Class AA State title March 14, facing undefeated New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva making its first State trip to State since 2004. Even though the Bombers began with an 8-0 lead out of the gate, it didn’t take long to realize the Panthers weren’t fazed by the big-city lights when they prowled behind a staunch defense to a 75-45 victory.
NRHEG sophomore Carlie Wagner burst upon the scene by scoring her team’s first 11 points, going on to hit 21 points in the first half which had her team out to a 27-19 edge. Wagner kept up her tear in the second half by scoring on a variety of looks. When she finished off yet another three-point play at the 12:15 mark of the second half, the Panthers were on their way with a 51-31 advantage.
At the other end, the Bombers never solved New Richland’s 1-3-1 zone defense, finishing 4-for-22 (18.2%) from three-point range. Becca Dahlman worked for 29 points, needing 28 shots from the field to get there. However, she did capture a brief spotlight glimpse when she buried a jumper on the right wing to break the existing career-scoring mark which had the score sitting at 51-33.
“Going in, I thought the team which played better defense was going to win. Both teams have a phenomenal scorer, both teams have great second and third position players. But it was going to be the defense which was going to win tonight. Their 1-3-1 defense in general is better than our defense, and they deserved to win tonight,” spoke a subdued Bomber Coach Tim Malone after stepping out of the tear-filled locker room. “We had some hesitation in our offense going against that defense.
NRHEG held a 45-28 edge in rebounds– a stat the Bombers prided themselves on owning when they swept their three State games last season. The Bombers close the season with a 29-2 record.
In Friday night’s ‘AA’ semifinals at the Target Center, the Panthers next take on Sauk Centre who eclipsed Worthington 65-51. Also reaching the semis are Providence Academy (60-33 over Minnehaha Academy) and Pequot Lakes (57-46 over Zumbrota-Mazeppa).