Last-second shot sends Tigers past Bombers in thrilling 5A finalStanding on the floor when Browerville’s Seth Kellen hit the game-winning shot
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CROSBY – Standing on the floor when Browerville’s Seth Kellen hit the game-winning shot, Barnum senior Jake Naslund said it was like being in a sports movie.
Kellen’s deep three-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining guided the Tigers to a thrilling 75-74 victory over the Bombers in last Friday’s Section 5A championship at Crosby-Ironton High School.
The long-range dagger carried the Tigers to their first-ever Class A state tournament this week, while it ended Barnum’s season, as well as the high school playing careers of several, like Naslund.
“It was just like those bad sports movies where nothing goes your way,” said Naslund of the ending. “The last shot just fell their way.”
Although nail-biting games are expected in March, last week’s small-school clash was one of the tightest in recent memory. As the section’s pair of top seeds, Browerville (27-2) and Barnum (24-6) exchanged blows before a near sellout gymnasium.
The seventh-ranked Tigers leapt to 32-20 halftime advantage and increased their lead to 17 early in the second, before the Bombers came storming back. Rapidly cutting the deficit down, Barnum soon tied things on a pair of highlight-reel three-pointers by junior Rodney Mullen Jr., as the Bombers’ faithful exploded and Browerville took a timeout.
“Right then I saw the look in the boys’ eyes and thought we had it,” Barnum Coach Rich Newman recalled. “We had it. We really did.”
Following the timeout, Mullen again sank a triple on the Bombers’ third straight possession and Barnum gained the lead. Then Browerville answered back and both clubs fought vigorously for a trip to state.
“In my 20 years of coaching I’ve seen some pretty exciting games, but this one was quite the experience,” Browerville Coach Bob Schueller said. “One moment you’re up, then then all of sudden you’re behind. It came down to the last shot and Seth [Kellen] got a good look. It worked out well.”
As the game tightened in the closing minutes, Schueller admitted his Tigers received some breaks down the stretch – from free throws to whistles and even Barnum junior guard Danny Warpula leaving the game because of a split-open and bleeding eye –that helped Browerville up to the final shot.
On Kellen’s final heave, he received the ball at the top of the key following a pass from the corner. Once the ball contacted the rim, it rested temporarily, rolled around for what seemed an eternity and then fell in – and the crowd erupted.
“Defensively we made them work for 20 seconds and then he hit the shot,” said Newman. “Browerville is older, bigger and stronger than us, but all of our boys contributed and played well. We played hard and the ending was just really tough for us. It doesn’t get any closer than that.”
Schueller felt for the Bombers.
“I don’t think anything I would have said would have helped, but Barnum played so hard,” he said. “It was one of our toughest games all year.”
Kellen finished the game with just six points on two three-pointers, while the Tigers were led by Seth Christensen’s 26, Mitch Heid’s 21 and Kyle Petermeiser’s 14 in arguably their program’s biggest-ever win.
Naslund paced Barnum with 20 points, as Mullen followed with 19 on half a dozen threes. Rich’s son, Brandon Newman, collected 13 in a defeat that the elder Newman had a tough time putting into words.
“I don’t think heartbreaker even describes it,” Rich Newman said. “Our boys worked so hard to get there and never gave up. It just hurt a lot.”
“Once the pain goes away, I think we’ll realize it was a great game,” Naslund said. “Yeah, to have gone to state would have been great, but I think it was one of the best high school games anyone has ever seen.”
Friday, March 16
Section 5A Finals
Browerville 75, Barnum 74
For Barnum - Jacob Naslund 20, Rodney Mullen Jr. 19, Brandon Newman 13, Daniel Warpula 8, Robert Minkkinen 4, Sam Anderson 4, Jaxson Turner 4, Branden King 2. 3-point goals - Mullen 6, Newman 3, Naslund 1.
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