Esko denied trip to stateHIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL: Tyler Vaughan scored 31 points in the second half as Braham (29-1) overcame a 40-30 halftime deficit to earn a berth in Wednesday’s Minnesota Class AA state tournament quarterfinals.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
A year ago, Bob Vaughan had to listen to Braham’s playoff games on the radio.
A bilateral pulmonary embolism nearly took the life of the longtime Bombers coach and left him unable to fulfill his passion.
“I died twice; I was coded (red) twice — once at my house and once at Abbott (Northwestern hospital),” he said. “I got to listen on the radio, but it’s not the same.”
Vaughan was back on the Braham sideline Saturday night and was witness to perhaps the greatest performance in school history. Tyler Vaughan, Bob’s son, scored 53 points in leading the Bombers to an 81-73 victory over Esko in the Section 7AA high school boys basketball championship game at Romano Gym.
Vaughan scored 31 points in the second half as the Bombers (29-1) overcame a 40-30 halftime deficit to earn a berth in Wednesday’s Minnesota Class AA state tournament quarterfinals.
“This is the tops,” coach Vaughan said when asked where his son’s performance ranked. “He wanted to win so badly. It’s maybe the greatest game a Braham player ever played considering what we had to overcome at the half. He was bound and determined.”
Vaughan, the sixth-highest scorer in Minnesota history with 3,255 points, made 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch after Anthony Bias converted two steals into layups to give the Bombers the momentum in a back-and-forth second half.
“For me to do this on this big of a stage, I’m just so happy I can’t even express it. I’m just so happy for my town, my community and the players on the team,” said the younger Vaughan, who made seven 3-point attempts. “I was hitting shots, and when I get in that groove, I feel like I’m not going to miss. I took it upon myself and the guys kept getting me the ball and setting picks. It kept going in, so I was going to keep shooting.”
Vaughan hit back-to-back 3-pointers and drove end-to-end for a basket that cut the lead to 44-43. Another 3 gave Braham the lead at 56-55, but a technical on Tyler Vaughan allowed Esko to edge back in front 59-58.
Vaughan broke a 63-all tie with another drive and Zach Dahlman’s lone basket on a rebound gave Braham the lead for good at 67-65. Bias made two pickpocket steals for layups and Vaughan was deadly from the foul line the rest of the game.
“The kid makes everything he puts up; he’s lived in the gym since he was born,” Esko coach Mike Devney said. “I thought we were in good position at halftime, but we got sloppy in the second half with a couple giveaways. Our kids played as hard as they could. With three sophomores in the starting lineup, I don’t think a lot of people had us in the section final.”
Jackson Lindquist led the Eskomos (25-5) with 24 points, Marc Peterson had 18 and Jared Harms added 15.
Braham will find out today who it plays in the quarterfinals when a random draw is conducted following a coaches seeding procedure. No matter who it is, the Bombers are just grateful to have both Vaughans there.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Tyler Vaughan said. “Last year we were so lost without him, emotionally and mentally. For him to come back means so much. At the start of the year he said he was going to do whatever he could to get us back to the state tournament, and he’s worked so hard. I’m just so happy for what he’s done, and it means so much to me.”
The elder Vaughan said he never considered stepping down.
“It made me more determined; I missed my kids and I wanted to coach my son,” he said. “I’m completely fine now. We’ve been doing this a lot of years and every team is unique, but it is special that this team gets to go.”
Braham — Anthony Bias 8, Shaun Hollenkamp 7, Sam Stigen 4, Cameron Braund 4, Tyler Vaughan 53, Zach Dahlman 2, Drew Klemz 3. Totals 27 16-21 81.
3-point goals — Vaughan 7, Hollenkamp 2, Stigen, Klemz.
Esko — Jackson Lindquist 24, Marc Peterson 18, Casey Staniger 7, Kory Deadrick 9, Jared Harms 15. Totals 28 6-12 73.
3-point goals — Peterson 5, Deadrick 3, Lindquist 2, Staniger.