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Bombers bow out to mighty Rangers

Barnum senior Hunter Fetters puts up a shot after being fouled by Crosby-Ironton's Ben Jordan during Saturday's Section 7AA quarterfinal game at UMD's Romano Gym. 1 / 3
Barnum sophomore Kyle Kielty makes a layup in front of Crosby-Ironton's Tre Jones during Saturday afternoon's Section 7AA quarterfinal game in UMD's Romano Gym. 2 / 3
Barnum junior Reece Parks shoots a jumper over Evan Edmundson of Crosby-Ironton during Saturday's Section 7AA quarterfinal game in UMD's Romano Gym. Photos by Dave Harwig/ 3 / 3

Centering the well-respected Crosby-Ironton boys basketball program over the past three decades, Dave Galovich is one of the winningest coaches in Minnesota history — boasting a career victory total that is well over 600.

It’s a number that only climbed higher last Saturday.

As usual, Galovich watched pleasantly from the sidelines as his Rangers rolled by Barnum 59-36 in a Section 7AA quarterfinal at Romano Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Outdoors it was sunny and beautiful, and indoors, it was all Crosby-Ironton.

The second-seeded Rangers (24-4) — evidently the bigger team — used their height to pester the No. 3 Bombers (20-8) early, causing several violations in the backcourt and a number of turnovers, said Barnum Coach Rich Newman.

That half-court trap triggered an early Crosby-Ironton advantage — one that ballooned all the way to 31-9 at one point — as they led handily by halftime and later won by 23.

“We got beat by a better team,” admitted Newman, who has all the respect in the world for his longtime opponent and good friend Galovich. “Ever since I started coaching, he was the guy I would call if I had any questions. I’ve known him for a lot of years and we’ve have some real good battles. He’s a class act — they don’t get any better than Dave Galovich.”

The Rangers played in Wednesday’s semifinal with top-seeded Proctor as the Pine Journal went to press. Another Galovich win would put them in Friday’s final with either co-No. 1 — and three-time reigning champion — Esko or upset-minded and second-seed Virginia.

While Newman noted earlier that Esko is a slight favorite, he thinks any of the four teams in Section 7AA left could win it. He said he’ll likely take his team to watch the coming games — watching will be a change for Barnum, which played against Esko in the last two section finals.

Although the Bombers are out, that doesn’t take away the season Newman’s young bunch had after graduating their school’s all-time leading scorer, Brandon Newman, the coach’s son who now plays for St. Scholastica. This year’s season highlights were a 45-36 win over Esko Dec. 18 and winning the Polar League title.

“It’s been fun,” said Hunter Fetters, one of three senior captains now moving on. “I’m definitely going to miss it.”

Along with Fetters, co-captains Chris Carlson and Mason Agurkis also end their high school career.  

“It’ll be remembered for a long time,” said Agurkis. “I’ll look back on all of the pictures of it for a long time to come.”

“I’ll take it with me forever. It’s one of the greatest times of my life,” Carlson added. “I’m going to miss this so much.”