Bombs away! Barnum buries Cardinals in season openerTen Bombers scored en route to an 87-45 drubbing of the Cardinals in a Polar League engagement last Friday evening at Barnum High School in both teams’ season openers.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Jake Naslund said he and his Barnum boys basketball teammates were tired of beating up on each other in practice after practice.
Naslund netted a game-best 22 points and 10 Bombers scored en route to an 87-45 drubbing of the Cardinals in a Polar League engagement last Friday evening at Barnum High School in both teams’ season openers.
“After three weeks of practice, it just got too long,” said Naslund, a senior, about his club’s constant drills, plays and scrimmages against one another. “We were just pumped up to finally play. We just got it going.”
Barnum barreled out of the gates last week, using their pesky pressure to generate Cardinals turnovers and make for easy buckets.
Barnum (1-0) led 61-30 when the halftime horn sounded after 18 minutes. Following that, they put things on cruise control.
“We were trying to get after the basketball,” said Barnum Coach Rich Newman. “We had probably four or five kids with three or four steals each. We had a lot of transition layups which really helped us out.”
Although 87 points may look impressive, Naslund said his team’s offensive production leads from their defense. That’s not unusual in Barnum.
“Pretty much, that’s all we work on in practice, is defense,” said Naslund, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard. “We can shoot the ball, but our defense creates those opportunities.”
Opportunities or not, Newman said he thinks his Barnum team this winter packs a little more scoring punch than last year’s 22-7 club that powered its way to the Section 5A semifinals last March.
“They have the potential to make a lot of shots – and miss a lot of shots,” Newman said, laughing. “Last year we were a little bigger and stronger, but this year we can go pretty deep on our bench.”
Barnum’s hefty bench attack was on display Friday. Along with Naslund’s 22 points, fellow senior forward Bobby Minkkinen scored 19, while senior guard Branden King tallied 10. Junior guard Danny Warpula also notched 10 points, while half a dozen more players found their way into the box score.
Newman explained that Warpula, King and his youngest son, Brandon Newman, are the main ball carriers in the backcourt, while both Naslund and Minkkinen start up front. Yet, role players such as senior post man Jacob Blumer, as well as eighth-grade guard Jaxson Turner can contribute significantly.
“Everyone can really work at any position,” Newman said. “But these guys really put in a lot of time in the summer. They went and played every day, even the younger kids. They played up. You could tell these guys were ready to go. I thought most of them were ready to go during the first day of practice.”
Thus, Naslund doesn’t think last week’s final tally was a fluke.
“I think we can continue to score like that, because we have people who can drive, shoot and score on any possession,” Naslund said. “I think our school is kind of known for basketball, and we take pride in that. We worked on our game a lot in the summer. So when it came to last week, we were definitely ready to play.”
Cromwell-Wright (1-1) Coach Bill Pocernich agreed.
“Barnum is just better than we are right now,” said the 16th-year head man for the Cardinals. “They played well against us and we just didn’t match up well with them.”
Pocernich said his team centers around senior big man Jake Ramberg inside. Players such as seniors Austin Johnson and Luis Martins, as well as juniors Alex Hakamaki, Jared Hutar, Joe Couture and Josh Oliver are all time-loggers. In Pocernich’s mind, their positions are pretty simple.
“Everybody’s [positions] are guard, except Jake,” said Pocernich with a chuckle.
Ramberg led the Cardinals with 21 points against the Bombers.
Three days later, the 6-foot-2, 270-pound center – entering his third year on the varsity – poured in a team-best 20 points in a come-from-behind 56-48 home win over Polar League rival Wrenshall Monday night.
“It was a big morale boost to get a win,” said Ramberg, one of four Cardinals in double figures Monday, along with Hakamaki, Hutar and Johnson. “We were down at halftime [25-20], but started clicking in the second and put some plays
“The kids did a good job, especially with their intensity on defense in the second half,” Pocernich said. “But our offense has a little ways to go yet.”
Once it gets going, Ramberg has high hopes for himself and his
“We just need to get comfortable with handling the pressure and make smarter decisions with the ball,” he said. “Hopefully this win will carry over to the next game. It doesn’t seem far off, but I think it’s realistic to say that we could pull off some upsets.”