Annandale’s Matt Miller scored five-straight points on drives, and the North No. 2 seed Cardinals hit their free throws down the final 36 seconds to pull away from No. 3 Braham 80-73 in the March 1 quarterfinals at St. Michael H.S.
Bomber senior Zach Dahlman was a force in the early going, scoring nine of the team’s first 11 points and 15 in the half. A string of three-pointers by Ryan Larson and Chris Olson created distance. John Larson’s steal and finish had the Bombers up 40-30 before the half ended 40-33.
Annandale mixed tough inside makes with three-pointers, taking its first lead in a while at 47-45. From then on, the game stayed extremely tight. John Larson’s three-pointer and score off a Randy Braund feed had him reaching the 1,000th career-point mark as a sophomore. Olson finished with 22 points for the Bombers, followed by Dahlman (19), J. Larson (15) and R. Larson (15).
Braham opened the playoffs Feb. 27 with a 74-63 home win over Maple Lake in a game the Bombers trailed 29-26 at the half. Leading scorers that night were Dahlman (27), J. Larson (26, 3 three-pointers), and Olson (13).
“The competition is so much better in this new section. The first round game with Maple Lake was a close one unlike our old section where the first or sometimes the second game wasn’t that tough,” said Dahlman after the quartefinal game. “Annandale is one of the best teams in the state, and we played them in the second round. That just shows how strong this section is.”
It’s been 12 straight seasons a Dahlman has played varsity ball at Braham. Representing the Dahlman clan one last season in the Blue and Gold, Zach said, “It’s great to be part of the family, and all my family members have been rooting me on. (Brother) Jonah was the first one to meet me outside the locker room tonight. So that really means a lot to me.”
He finished, “This senior season was just a blessing– it really was. I wouldn’t regret anything about it. It was a blast.”
• Annandale (22-6) defeated top-seed St. Cloud Cathedral 63-61 in the 5AA semifinals March 4. Last season, the Cardinals also won 22 games, finishing with a win over Esko in the Class AA State 3rd-place game. They take on Howard Lake-Waverly in the March 7 5AA championship at SCSU.