Bombers pull away from Providence to reach championship game

Senior Dani Braund scored off one of her 4 offensive rebounds. Her defense was also crucial in the win; she forced a 5-second turnover and got a steal & layup by pushing the Lions' Happke out past the arc.   Photos by Greg Hunt

Senior Dani Braund scored off one of her 4 offensive rebounds. Her defense was also crucial in the win; she forced a 5-second turnover and got a steal & layup by pushing the Lions’ Happke out past the arc. Photos by Greg Hunt

There will be plenty of bruised bodies Saturday morning resulting from the Class AA semifinals scrum between Braham and Providence Academy March 15 at the Target Center. The shorter but quicker Bombers kept attacking late in the game to knock out the defending champ Lions 49-39.

Becca Dahlman, Jenna Winter and Kayla Nickles all hit three-pointers early, and Dani Braund finished off a steal and layup to highlight the Bombers jump to a 23-11 lead. But Providence, fueled by 5’11” guard Leah Szabla, answered with a 12-0 run which tied the game before the Bombers led 25-23 at the break.

The second half was a grueling chess game between the Lions’ patient, back-door seeking offense and the Bombers ready to push the ball to the hoop at any chance against the tight zone. Braham’s strategy paid off with first 6’1″ McKenna Hoppe fouling out, then Szabla, then sleek 6’1″ guard Taylor Finley fouling out.

Junior Kayla Nickles showed no fear in attacking the taller Providence defense. Her scrap to tie up the ball in the second half had her elbow bleeding. Nickles finished with 9 points & 4 rebounds vs. the Lions.

Junior Kayla Nickles showed no fear in attacking the taller Providence defense. Her scrap to tie up the ball in the second half had her elbow bleeding. Nickles finished with 9 points & 4 rebounds vs. the Lions.

Dahlman’s steal off an inbounds pass, sprint downcourt and made layup increased Braham’s lead to 46-38 with 45.2 seconds to go, essentially sealing the win; she finished with 25 points. Braund added 7 points and 5 rebounds (4 on O-glass), Nickles scored 9 with 4 boards, and Jaclyn Hollenkamp rounded up 6 rebounds against the taller Lions while adding 4 points.

Most basketball fans got the ‘AA’ championship game they wanted: Braham (32-0) vs. New Richland-H-E-G (31-1). The Panthers received 48 points from Carlie Wagner in their 69-60 victory over Minneapolis Washburn in the late semis, but she showed a little chink in her armor with 16 turnovers. The Bombers will be seeking revenge since it was the Panthers who rolled past them in last year’s State quarterfinals.

The championship will be 2 p.m. at the Target Center.

The Bomber Nation was loud & proud at the Target Center Friday night for the State semifinals.

The Bomber Nation was loud & proud at the Target Center Friday night for the State semifinals.

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