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Bombers down Rebels in hard-fought game

ML-WR’s Natalie Mikrot goes in for two points against the Barnum Bombers Thursday night. Dan Saletel/ 1 / 3
Barnum’s Bailey Wheeler and Moose Lake-Willow River’s Sydney Baier fight for possession of the ball in Thursday’s 73-68 Bomber win. Dan Saletel/ 2 / 3
Barnum’s Kaitlyn Skutevik works to get around the Rebels’ Tori Walczynski on a drive to the net Thursday night. Dan Saletel/ 3 / 3

After coming off a tough loss to Cromwell-Wright, the Barnum Bombers were looking to get back on the winning track last Thursday against next-door-neighbor and rival Moose Lake-Willow River. Led by the 21 points of Emily Miletich, the Bombers accomplished their goal by downing the Rebels 73-68.

“Every win is important for us in a loaded sub-section,” said Barnum coach Dustin Collelo. “I think this game had a little more significance because of the rivalry and because we were coming off a loss to Cromwell in which we really didn’t compete.”

The Bombers held a slim 30-29 halftime lead, but a good start to the second half helped propel them to the win.

“Barnum’s shooters were able to get open and hit shots in the second half,” said Rebel coach Dustin Wright. “They went on an 8-0 run to start the second half and that ended up being the difference in the game.”

While Miletich was leading the Bombers in scoring, Ally Bode was leading the Rebels and both teams with a 27-point effort. Natalie Mikrot chipped in with 17 points.

“Ally (Bode) is a good shooter,” said Barnum’s Collelo. “She did a nice job of finding openings and didn’t miss many shots.”

A big key for the Bombers was a balanced scoring attack that saw them hit eight 3-pointers in the game and four players hit double-digit scoring. Adding to the point totals for Barnum were Bailey Wheeler with 16, Mallory Agurkis with 14 and Kaitlyn Skutevik chipped in 12 points. Brittany Mike contributed five points, Liz Carlson had three and Kendal Miletich rounded out the scoring for the Bombers with two points.

“We had to focus so much attention on Miletich that she was able to kick the ball out to open teammates and they shots,” Wright said. “Barnum came out in the second half with a 1-3-1 zone defense and that caused some confusion for our girls. We adjusted and started playing good zone offense, but we need to continue doing a better job of taking care of the basketball and limiting our turnovers.”

Joining Bode and Mikrot in scoring for the Rebels were Meghan Granquist with eight points and Charis Blacklock with six points. Laura Walker and Tori Walczynski each scored two points and Elle Schaumburg added a single point.

While the win was important for the Bombers, it was equally important for a young Rebels team that is learning to compete at the varsity level against top teams.

“This game was very important for our team,” explained Wright. “We have a young team and it was great for our girls to see that they are capable of competing with a good team for 36 minutes if we play well and execute. The next step will be learning how to win these games.”

On Tuesday night the Bombers defeated the McGregor Mercuries to improve their record to 4-1 on the season. They appear to be a team that could be tough come tournament time.

“We have a lot of shooters who can score in double digits on any given night,” Collelo said. “We can usually find ways to score, but we need to play better defense to compete with the really good teams in the area.”

The loss dropped the Rebels to 0-4 entering Tuesday night’s matchup with the state’s top ranked team Mountain Iron-Buhl.