Bombers best Bulldogs, then bow outIt was veteran player Daron Mainville's boisterous voice, fist pumps and continual support that helped carry the Bombers to a thrilling 69-62 overtime victory over South Ridge in a Section 7A second-round girls basketball game last Thursday evening in Esko.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
ESKO – As the only postseason-experienced veteran on a young team, Daron Mainville is the go-to player in big games for the Bombers.
But rather than just use her big size advantage inside, the Barnum junior jolted her team last week with her enthusiasm.
Mainville, a 6-foot-2 center, collected a game-leading 24 points. However, it was the post player’s boisterous voice, fist pumps and continual support that helped carry the Bombers to a thrilling 69-62 overtime victory over South Ridge in a Section 7A second-round girls basketball game last Thursday evening in Esko.
Entering the season, Mainville was the only returning player with any significant varsity experience on a youthful Barnum team with no seniors. A formidable force in the paint, Mainville has been on the varsity for four seasons, since her first year as an eighth-grade reserve in 2010 when the Bombers won the state championship.
“There have always been upperclassmen for me to look up to,” Mainville said last week outside of the gym. “So now, it’s kind of a new role for me. I just didn’t want our season to end.”
Waiting until the end last week, Barnum battled back against South Ridge, outscoring the Culver-based school down the stretch of regulation and overtime. Behind by a bucket at halftime, the Bombers later sent the game into the extra session at 60-60 on Megan Nelson’s inside bank shot with four seconds remaining.
The Bombers held the Panthers to one basket in overtime, and scored all nine of its points from the free-throw line, including Mainville’s final swish.
“We practice free throws a lot,” Mainville said. “For us to do those little things that add up to a big factor – especially in the playoffs – that means a lot to, basically, our brand-new team.”
After graduating all of last season’s starters, South Ridge lost to Barnum by 30 points during the regular season. Last week, they led much of the game, before tiring in overtime. Mikayla Olesiak, Krystal Karppinen, Justice Janke and Lindsey Janke all scored in double figures, as the Panthers finished 8-18.
“We were right there,” said Panthers Coach Brad Olesiak. “I’m proud. We were a little tired – and it’s going to be a tough one to swallow for the girls – but they went out and played hard.”
The 11-win Bombers played to their season’s end Saturday in Hibbing, when they lost 51-46 to rival Cromwell-Wright.
First-year Coach Katie Moench was realistic.
“To think of who we were as a team when we started to who we are as a team now, we’ve improved so much,” she said. “We’re able to compete. I think we accomplished more than anybody thought we could of. And right there, that’s victory.”
Much like Mainville’s enthusiasm.
“I think everyone on our team would say we look to [Daron] for advice,” said teammate Cheyanne Johnson. “She’s always patting us on the back and keeps our spirits up, no matter what.”