It’s another finals rematch with Esko: Braham girls basketball began its run to a fifth-straight State berth with two convincing wins against Great River rivals, then the Bombers knocked out International Falls for the third-straight season as it again reached the Section 7AA championship.
Waiting for them will be very familiar Esko, the fourth year in a row the two teams have met for the State berth battle. The Eskomos (26-3) defeated Cinderella-squad Milaca 67-26 in the March 5 semifinals; the No. 6 South seed Wolves upset No. 3 Moose Lake-Willow River and No. 2 Aitkin in the first two rounds. Esko is led by 6’8” shot-blocking zone center Savanna Trapp (UCLA recruit) and super-swift senior guard Marissa Shady.
The 7AA championship will be 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7 back at the UMD gym. The winner will play in the 8 p.m. Class AA quarterfinals Wednesday, March 13 at the Target Center. The foe will be the 3AA champ, either BOLD (25-3) or Worthington (21-5) who play March 8 for their section title.
The March 5 semifinals at UMD saw the Bombers jump out to a 23-0 lead over the Broncos in the first six minutes and keep rolling to a 91-30 win. This was against a senior-led squad seeded No. 2 in the 7AA North that came into the game with a 21-7 record.
In that early run, Becca Dahlman scored 14, including sinking consecutive ‘3s,’ and Kayla Nickles added seven more fast points. Braham’s defense featured knock-aways and steals from Dani Braund and Jaclyn Hollenkamp to hound the Broncos into 15 turnovers in the half which ended with a 64-13 difference on the scoreboard. Dahlman scored 33 points on her repertoire of drives, pull-ups and step-backs in the first half alone, finishing with 44 points for the game. Nickles had 16, Braund and Jenna Winter 9, and Hollenkamp scored 6.
• In the final home game of the season, the Bombers defeated Pine City 77-19 Feb. 27 in the Section 7AA opening round. Kayla Nickles’ three-pointer spurred a 19-2 run in the first half, creating a 27-5 advantage. Good ball movement set up seven points by Becca Dahlman during the run, along with Jenna Winter swooping in for a sweet field goal, Dani Braund scoring off two offensive boards and the Bombers’ defense creating steals to fuel the fast break.
Dahlman finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds and 7 steals in the victory. Nickles added 12 points, and Jaclyn Hollenkamp contributed 11 points, 7 steals and 7 assists. Additional scoring was from Braund (7), Natalie Bacon (6) and Winter (5).
• In Saturday night’s 7AA quarterfinals at UMD, the Bombers kept rolling with a 109-28 thumping of Rush City. Dahlman doubled up again with 46 points and 10 steals, along with dishing 8 assists and grabbing 8 rebounds. Nickles scored 28 to go with 5 steals. Braund had 12 points and 5 assists, and Hollenkamp finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 7 steals. Winter (5), Angie Bendickson (4) and Bacon (2) completed the scoring.