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Barnum is going to State!

The Barnum boys basketball team is headed back to the state tournament for only the second time in school history and the first time since the 1983 Bombers went undefeated and won the state tournament!...

The Barnum boys basketball team is headed back to the state tournament for only the second time in school history and the first time since the 1983 Bombers went undefeated and won the state tournament!

Barnum played an unbelievable defensive game and stirred in just enough offense to down Orr 46-34 in the Section 7AA title game to make a trip this week to the Twin Cities for the Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament.

"They matched up well with us defensively and we were not able to get many opportunities from outside," commented Bomber coach Rich Newman. "Willie Carlson was not getting the chances from three, but he did hit a key three-pointer for us with about three minutes left to put us up by six points."

Playing before a packed house at Romano Gym on the UMD campus, the Bombers, Carlson, who finished with 24 points, and the rest of his teammates had trouble shooting from their bread-and-butter outside range and their game plan changed from creating opportunities outside to down low and from short range.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair and ended with Barnum leading 22-21. There were five ties and the lead changed hands nine times in the first stanza.

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"Orr was a good team," said Newman. "They played really well, but we were able to get the shots inside and we pulled it out in the end."

The Braves did manage to take a 25-24 lead in the second half, but that was the last time they would gain a lead as the Bombers put the clamps down defensively and found a way to score just enough points.

It appeared late in the game that Newman's decision to keep players fresh played a key role in the final score as the Braves wore down and Barnum got stronger. Orr rarely, if at all, subbed in the game and the Bombers appeared to take charge in the late going as they felt the state tournament was within their grasp.

Carlson finished with 24 points including two three-pointers, Josh Earlywine added 10, Kyle Grimm was strong with eight points, and both Micah Kantonen and Tyler Wekseth finished with two points.

Orr did make things interesting when they got within 37-34, but Barnum reeled off the final nine points of the game to take the win.

  • Barnum made it to the section championship with an 80-73 overtime win over Mountain Iron-Buhl on Wednesday night in front of a packed house at Romano Gym at UMD.

A big key for the Bombers was the play of Erik Johnson who came off the bench and scored 10 points at crucial moments, including two three-pointers in the overtime session.
DJ Winfield led all scorers with 36 points, with 23 of those points coming in the first half alone.

"We had four different guys on him and I thought they all did a great job on him," recalled Rich Newman of his players guarding Winfield. "I thought Tyler Wekseth came up big against Winfield."

As with any game it is important to get off to a good start and Dylen Eggen hit five three-pointers in a row to start the game for the Bombers, which was not lost on coach Newman.

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"We knew we had to play well and shoot well and Eggen got us off to a good start," mentioned Newman. "I thought we rebounded well, shot well and showed a lot of determination. Our guys came into the game to win and they left it all on the floor."

The Bombers had a chance to capture the game at the end of regulation, but Johnson's shot didn't stay down and the game headed for the extra session.

"I thought we had a chance to win the game at the end, but the shot just didn't go in," said Newman. "Even after that the guys all came back to the bench with smiles on their faces and ready to play the overtime. I mean, they weren't all down or angry that we missed the game winner. They just shrugged it off and went back out to win."

Eggen led the Bombers with 24 points, Carlson had 21, Johnson scored 10, it was nine for Kantonen, Earlywine chipped in with seven, Grimm scored five and Wekseth added four points.

Joining Winfield in double-digits for MIB were Joe Ringler with 12 points and Andy Nikolanci with 11 points.

Barnum was amazing again from the outside with 13 three-pointers, including seven from Eggen and four from Carlson.

The Bombers are now 26-4 on the season and they will take on Bertha-Hewitt (25-1) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Williams Arena in the Class A quarterfinals.

The last time a Bomber team played in the state tournament they were on their way to the state Class A title and an undefeated season in 1983. Barnum was led by a pair of junior All-State players that season, Robbie Peterson and Todd Lind, under then coach Russ Redetzke. Barnum defeated Luverne in the state championship game at the old St. Paul Civic Center to cap their undefeated run.

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It is also the second Barnum boys team to make it to the state tournament this season as the boys football team made it to state in Class A as well this past fall.

Jake Kachinske contributed to this story. Pine Journal sports reporter Kerry Rodd can be contacted at: kdrodd@aol.com .

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