The UMD court has been the scene of plenty of heart-stoppers this post-season, and Thursday night’s Section 7AA boys hoops semifinals were no exception. The Braham boys scratched and clawed their way past defending-champ Virginia 77-72 to reach the championship which will be 7 p.m. Saturday, March 17 back on that UMD floor.
Waiting for them will be Esko (25-4) who barely got past Deer River in a 71-68 match prior to Braham’s game. The Eskomos were up by nine points late, Deer River stormed back to take a one-point lead, then Esko got one last big steal and set of free throws to edge the Warriors. Braham (28-1) and the Eskomos did not meet this season.
Anthony Bias came out gunning for the Bombers with three quick three-pointers for a 10-5 edge. The game began looking like a blowout when Braham upped the advantage to 27-11 with 6:39 left in the first half, but the Blue Devils roared back to make it a 38-35 game at the break.
Center Cameron Braund picked up his fourth foul 10 seconds into the second half, but junior Zach Dahlman stepped up with a strong showing (11 points, 8 rebounds inc. 5 offensive boards) to fill the void. Virginia was always hanging around, however, within one point for a long stretch.
Then Bias popped his fourth three-pointer of the game, Tyler Vaughan finished off a huge three-point play, and Bias (16 pts, 2 steals) hit a pull-up jumper in the lane to make it a 66-59 game with just over three minutes to go. Still, Cade Stackpool kept the Devils sticking close with his long-range hits; the game was 73-69 with 41 ticks left. Vaughan scored eight of his game-high 32 down the stretch, along with Sam Stigen hitting three free throws to send the team home with a win.