Unbeaten Upsala upends BarnumBrandon Newman and his teammates again finished in runner-up red as the Bombers were bested by fourth-ranked Upsala 76-56 in the Section 5A championship last Friday night at Crosby-Ironton High School.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
As troublesome as it was for Brandon Newman to walk to center court with an injured tailbone, it was even more painful for the Barnum sophomore to get another red medal.
Newman and his teammates again finished in runner-up red as the Bombers were bested by fourth-ranked Upsala 76-56 in the Section 5A championship last Friday night at Crosby-Ironton High School. The difficult defeat added to last season’s one-point finals loss against Browerville on a buzzer-beater.
“It’s always tough to lose that last game,” said longtime Barnum Coach Rich Newman, Brandon’s father. “I told them how proud I was of their accomplishments and efforts. [Upsala] was deep, good shooters, and fundamentally sound — we gave them every trick we had. We just ran into a tougher team.”
Unbeaten Upsala (30-0) — which begins its small western school’s second-ever state tournament appearance Thursday with Battle Lake in a Class A quarterfinal at Williams Arena in Minneapolis — relies on depth and shooting, Newman said. The Bombers made their last state trip in 2007.
On Friday, the Bombers (26-4) countered the Cardinals early and trailed just 30-24 at half.
But Upsala pulled away to a 15-point advantage early in the second session, Coach Newman said, once top scorer Brandon Newman fouled out midway into the second frame.
The Cardinals were carried by Christian Pekarek’s game-best 26 points, while teammates Avery Smieja and Garrett Wolf added 14 and 11 points, respectively in the team’s 30th win.
Along with Newman’s 21 points — made despite sitting out every practice last week after injuring his tailbone on the opening play of last Tuesday’s semifinal win over Onamia — senior veteran guard Daniel Warpula scored 12 points. Zach Carlson and Sam Anderson each had six points as well.
“We were scrappy; each guy fulfilled his role this year,” Rich Newman said of a team with no players over 6-foot. “Looking at our 26 wins, I think a lot of teams in Minnesota would like that.
“It was an honor to have coached this whole group,” he continued. “I thoroughly enjoyed going to the gym each day.”
Warpula, who qualified for the state football tournament last fall along with the younger Newman, said it was difficult to fall short last week, closing out his high school playing career.
“A majority of us football players played basketball and we all wanted to get back to State,” Warpula said. “But we kept fighting until the final buzzer went off. Every game, we all worked our tails off as hard as we could. That was us.”
“It always hurts getting those red medals,” Brandon Newman added. “We did everything. We deserved to be there.”