Bombers bury rival RebelsBarnum’s Brandon Newman buried a 3-pointer to open the long-lasting rivalry game, and the Bombers scored the opening nine points. That quick start turned to a 30-18 advantage by halftime, as the Bombers (12-1) – winners of six straight – never trailed.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Spurting blood after receiving a gash to his left eye in last March’s section championship with Browerville, Barnum senior Daniel Warpula’s perfect free-throw shooting night was cut short.
Towel pressed on his wound, Warpula watched helplessly on the sidelines as the Tigers hit a buzzer-beater and went to State.
“It was tough to sit there and watch,” said Warpula, who needed seven stitches following his collision in the closing minutes. “I’d much rather be out there with my team.”
Warpula was with his Bombers teammates last week when Barnum blitzed neighboring visitor Moose Lake-Willow River 75-51 in a Polar League boys basketball beating last Thursday night.
Barnum’s Brandon Newman buried a 3-pointer to open the long-lasting rivalry game, and the Bombers scored the opening nine points. That quick start turned to a 30-18 advantage by halftime, as the Bombers (12-1) – winners of six straight – never trailed.
“We try to come out firing,” said Newman, a sophomore, who scored a game-leading 31 points last week, then added 29 more Monday in obliterating Aitkin on the road. “We aren’t the biggest team, but we’re fast. We like to get defensive stops and push it.”
The Bombers have pushed around all of their opponents this season, except a lone loss to state-storied Braham. A tiny basketball town of their own, Barnum is again a state contender, led by Warpula and Newman as veteran returnees in the backcourt. Junior Zachary Carlson is also a guard along with a quintet of role players on the small team with tenacity and toughness.
“We have no one over 6 feet tall,” said Bombers Coach Rich Newman, now in his 16th season. “But we have a group of guys who play hard and bring it every day. They are stepping up and matching the physicality – especially against Moose Lake.”
“They’re tough,” said Rebels Coach Neil Dickenson.
Dickenson, in his fourth season at ML-WR, credited Barnum, but noted his Rebels (7-4) allowed 31 free throws in the loss. That comes on top of giving Cass Lake-Bena 25, Esko 28 and Warroad 41 freebies, along with fighting injuries, concussions and the flu.
“There are no excuses,” Dickenson said. “We just have to play better defense. We haven’t quite found our rhythm yet. I’m confident we will. And when it’s together, we’ll be pretty tough.”
“Once we click, I think we’ll start to roll,” said Rebels senior guard Tony Adamczak, who scored a team-high 19 points on Barnum before injuring his ankle in a win over visiting Rush City Tuesday night. “I think we’re one of the most athletic teams around here.”
Right now, though, their rivals are one of the toughest.
“We’re playing extremely well,” Warpula said. “We want to go to state. We’ve put in a lot of time together. And the shots.”
With luck, Warpula will be able to finish out the season without any game-stopping injuries.
“He had to get seven stitches after that,” Rich Newman said. “We did every trick in the book to get it to stop bleeding and it just didn’t.
“If this was 50 years ago, before the referees were so worried about blood, I think he would have gone out there again and made all of those free-throws – blood running down the side of his face.”