Bombers stand tall against rival Eskomos
One can commend Barnum senior Mason Agurkis for trying to win the opening tip-off against boys basketball’s towering Adam Trapp last week against arch-rival Esko.
After all, the 6-foot-2 Agurkis is a full foot shorter than the 7-2 Trapp, perhaps the tallest player in Minnesota and arguably the biggest 16-year-old sophomore in the country.
“I didn’t even get my finger on the ball,” Agurkis said.
Yet, when Agurkis and his teammates did touch the ball throughout last Friday’s Polar League clash — one that filled the Esko stands to the top of the bleachers on both sides — the Bombers were patient, smart and ultra-precise.
Precision passing, accurate shooting and a team-wide effort propelled Barnum by Esko 45-36, as Agurkis, a captain, and three of his teammates — Drake Weets, Reece Parks and Chris Carlson — all scored 10 points to pace a game plan played perfectly by coach Rich Newman’s Bombers.
“They executed what we needed to do,” said Newman.
Newman, in his 19th season at Barnum, knew his undersized team couldn’t trade baskets with the three-time defending Section 7AA champion and currently No. 7-rated Eskomos, so following a pair of opening 3-pointers by his unranked squad, he continued to watch his boys slowly work the ball around, until seizing the best opportunity available.
That led to a football-like score at halftime, with Barnum (6-3) ahead of Esko (6-2) by a touchdown margin of 14-8. Newman said it was the lowest total he’d seen with the two teams.
Come the second frame, longtime Eskomos coach Mike Devney said his team took a brief lead of 31-30, but an ensuing Bombers 3-pointer put them back in front for good.
Down the stretch, Devney said Barnum was 10-of-10 from the foul line. For the game, the Bombers were 12-for-23 (or 52-percent) from the field, to Esko’s 11-of-46 (23-percent) mark. Barnum also was 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. Esko, previously unbeaten at home, was just 4-of-24.
Jaxson Turner, who will play collegiate football at North Dakota next fall, led the Eskomos with seven points, while Trapp, Camden Berger and Alex Walther all added six each.
“They deserve it,” Devney said. “We got out-played.”
Esko and Barnum have played for the past two 7AA titles, and their long-lived rivalry continues, including last week’s game.
“It was packed to the rafters,” described Devney.
“There were a lot of happy people after,” Newman said.
“It’ll be one I remember for a long time,” added Agurkis.