Braham boys basketball opened the defense of the its Section 7AA title by showcasing its smothering ‘D’, good hustle and shooting skills in a 96-49 win over Rush City March 6 in the playoff opener.
Braham, seeded No. 3 in the 7AA South, ripped open the contest over the No. 6 seed Tigers by rolling on a 30-5 run in the first half. Three-pointers fired from John Larson, Zach Dahlman and Shaun Hollenkamp ignited the run. Larson later added two more ‘3s’ and twice found Connor Tschumper on the same no-look pass play. Dahlman’s work on the offensive glass for scores, and Randy Braund’s hustle on a scramble play and feed to Tschumper closed the run with Braham ahead 40-13.
“We played maybe our best game of the year versus Rush City and just did everything well,” said Bomber Coach Bob Vaughan.
Hollenkamp and Larson both scored 20 in the last home win of the season, with Dahlman adding 19, Tschumper 16 and Chris Olson 11.
Esko 80, Braham 70
Anyone who witnessed the 2012 7AA finals of Braham vs. Esko understood the potential the Eskomos had coming back this winter. Esko reversed last year’s outcome with a strong shooting afternoon in the 80-70 victory over the Bombers in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the U of M-Duluth.
Juniors Kory Deadrick scored 30 and Casey Staniger totaled 27 points– both popping three ‘3s’ each– to lead the No. 2 seed Eskomos to the victory. Their team owned a 39-28 edge at halftime and held off a Bomber charge late in the second half.
“Staniger and Deadrick both shot so well for Esko. We battled, but they were better this day,” said Coach Vaughan. “We got within five with 3:00 to go when Zach Dahlman drove to the hoop, made the bucket, but was called for a charge. We never got closer after that.”
Dahlman and Hollenkamp scored 20 points each to pace the Braham offense. Tschumper scored 10, with Larson (8), Stigen (4), Olson (4) and Dylan Altendorf (2) also scoring.
The Eskomos (24-4) will take on North No. 1 Virginia in the March 14 semifinals back at UMD. The other semis will pit South No. 1 Mora (23-5) against North No. 3 Deer River (20-8). The 7AA championship will be March 16 (7 p.m.) at UMD.
Braham closed the season with a 25-3 mark and will graduate four seniors from the program: Shaun Hollenkamp, Sam Stigen, Dylan Altendorf and manager Eric Jones.
“Great leaders, great people who never lost a home game,” Coach Vaughan described his seniors. “Four Great River Conference titles, 63-1 in GRC play, and two State tournament appearances over their time here.”