Esko falls in double overtime, Braham heads to stateRebekah Dahlman’s 3-pointer at the end of Braham’s first overtime with Esko on Thursday night in the Section 7AA championship broke the state single-season scoring record, but more importantly for the Bombers, it forced a second overtime.
By: Jon Nowacki, Pine Journal
Rebekah Dahlman didn’t realize she broke a record at the time, but it is something she will never forget.
Dahlman’s 3-pointer at the end of Braham’s first overtime with Esko on Thursday night in the Section 7AA championship broke the state single-season scoring record, but more importantly for the Bombers, it forced a second overtime.
Then Dahlman really took over.
Dahlman scored 20 of her game-high 37 points in two overtimes — including 12 in the second OT alone — as Braham pulled away for a 68-58 victory before about 1,200 spectators at Romano Gym.
“I was struggling with my shot earlier in the game, but it’s the shots at the end of the game that really matter,” said Dahlman, who earlier Thursday was named Gatorade’s Minnesota girls basketball player of the year. “My teammates did a great job of keeping us in it, and at the end of the first overtime, I knew that was what we needed, so I didn’t hesitate.”
With coaches for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and probably other NCAA Division I schools in attendance, Dahlman, just a junior, is now only 22 points shy of Tyler Hill’s career record of 3,888 points.
The Bombers (29-1) advance to their fourth straight state tournament and fifth overall after winning the Class AA title in 2011.
Esko finishes 26-4 after yet another close loss Braham, which beat the Eskomos 63-52 in last year’s section final and 56-54 earlier this year.
“I have to be the most blessed person, to be in this position, coaching a group of girls like this,” said Braham coach Tim Malone. “They work hard and do everything you ask of them.”
Esko junior Marisa Shady came in averaging nine points a game but outscored the prolific Dahlman 23-17 through regulation, but then didn’t score again. Megan Reuer added 12 points and Savanna Trapp fought through foul trouble to add nine points, more than 12 below her average, before fouling out midway through the first overtime.
Esko made 16 of 27 free throws, including some critical misses down the stretch. After Dahlman’s record-breaking 3, from about 4 feet beyond the arc, the Eskomos had a chance to win with 1.8 seconds left at the end of the first overtime, with Steph Bandelin fighting for control of the inbounds pass but not able to convert the layup.
After that, it was all Braham in the second overtime as Dahlman made eight of 10 free throws and 14 of 19 for the game.
“It wasn’t any one play,” Esko coach Scott Antonutti said. “I know a couple of these girls feel badly, but I’m very proud of the way they played. It’s disappointing how we lost, but we fought hard and battled.”
Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow added 14 points for Braham, including a big 3 to put the Bombers ahead 46-44 near the end of regulation before Esko’s Brooke Schramm made a driving basket on the other end to tie it.
“Esko played with a lot of heart and has a very, very good basketball team. I feel for Scott and his team,” Malone said. “They say it’s better to be lucky than good, and we got lucky. It’s an old cliché, but it really rang true in this game. Esko had us against the ropes.”
But Dahlman and Co. hung around and around and around. … Keep an elite player in the game and she will eventually burn you, as Esko found out.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Dahlman, part of a famed basketball family that includes her grandpa, former Minneapolis Lakers coach John Kundla. “I never get nervous when I’m playing.”
This game was full of makes and misses, what-ifs and could-have-gone-the-other-ways, but for the fourth straight year the Section 7AA championship goes to the Bombers.
Malone was visibly spent after the game and wiped sweat off his forehead with his sleeve.
“I feel like I just got done playing,” Malone said.
Braham — Austyn Eng 5, Jaclyn Hollenkamp 2, Kayla Nickles 5, Becca Cuda 3, Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow 14, Rebekah Dahlman 37, Dani Braund 2. Totals 20 19-25 68.
3-point goals — Eng, Nickles, Sorenson-Giffrow 3, Dahlman 3.
Esko — Kallyn Knutson 5, Marisa Shady 23, Steph Bandelin 2, Brooke Schram 7, Megan Rever 12, Savanna Trapp 9. Totals 20 16-27 58.
3-point goals — Knutson, Shady.