Lady Bombers fall to Mountain Iron-Buhl in Section 7A finalRead the Pine Journal's take on last Friday's game when the Mountain Iron-Buhl girls team edged Barnum 47-42 in the Section 7A championship before an estimated 1,200 fans at Romano Gymnasium on the campus of UMD.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Jeff Buffetta has been coaching girls basketball for 14 years. Never once, before entering this season, has the Mountain Iron-Buhl coach defeated mighty Barnum.
This year, he and the Rangers were three-for-three.
Taking both regular season games from the Bombers started the streak. Yet, undoubtedly, MIB’s biggest win came last Friday night when they edged Barnum 47-42 in the Section 7A championship before an estimated 1,200 fans at Romano Gymnasium on the campus of UMD.
“Barnum has a good tradition and we knew if we wanted to beat them, it was going to take a full game by us,” Buffetta said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge. It means a lot to get by them.”
The Bombers have been a regular at the state tournament in recent years, winning the state crown in 2010. Acknowledging their tradition, Buffetta also said he thinks Barnum and others prepared MIB (29-1) for the upcoming state tournament set to begin this week.
“I would like to think so,” said Buffetta. “We respect Barnum’s program and I think we are prepared to do well at state. It’s been challenging; there were some very good teams in our section.”
As part of an unusually deep field in the tournament, Barnum (24-6) shocked previously unbeaten and fourth state-ranked North Woods 56-55 last Wednesday, before falling to the seventh-ranked Rangers two days later. The Bombers were ranked in the state polls, too, early in the season.
“The state tournament was played right here at UMD, in my opinion,” Barnum Coach Randy Myhre said. “We had a chance to win against [MIB]. We had it under control until foul trouble in the end.”
Barnum took a 27-20 advantage by halftime, but Barnum’s thin roster – only six or seven players deep – played a factor in the Rangers’ second-half surge. The Bombers’ Claire Rodgers was also battling a sprained ankle, while post threat Daron Mainville fouled out late.
MIB knocked down free throws down the stretch to seal the deal, as they qualified for their fourth state tournament. They placed third last year.
“We played them three times and they beat us three times,” Myhre said of MIB. “But [last Friday’s] game could have gone either way. I have to give a lot of credit to our kids. The effort was there.”
Rodgers and Katie Myhre scored 11 points each for Barnum, while Dakotah Winans and Sarah Overbye had 18 and 11 for MIB, respectively.
Myhre said their semifinal upset win over North Woods was something special.
“That was one heck of a game with North Woods,” he said. “They beat us handily during the season, but we came back right with them. That’s probably the best performance I’ve seen in all my years at Barnum.”
Myhre began coaching at the small Polar League school in 1977. According to the Duluth News Tribune, he will likely retire. His 626 career girls basketball victories rank him third all-time in state history.
But he wouldn’t take the credit. He’d want to give that to the girls.
“These kids couldn’t have set the standards any higher,” Myhre said of his four captains – his senior daughter, Katie, senior twins Claire and Caitlan Rodgers and junior Claudia Turner. “We’ve had teams here that have been deeper and better, but none that have worked harder to put themselves in a position to succeed like we did this year.
“You just have to give a lot of credit to our kids,” Myhre continued. “I’m just really proud of them and happy to be a part of our team. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of all of this.”