The Braham Bombers girls’ basketball team, seeded #3 in the South Subsection of Section 5A, saw its season end at the hands of the #2-seeded East Central Eagles on Saturday, March 4.
The Eagles grabbed an early lead and never lost it. The final score was 45-33. The Eagles (21-6) advanced to the Subsection title game against #1 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (21-7) who had beaten Swanville 65-41 in the earlier game. The Bombers finished 15-13.
To get to this game, the Bombers defeated the Isle Huskies 77-27, while the Eagles dumped Ogilvie 78-47 on March 1.
Against Isle, Braham stroked six threes to jump out to a 26-11 lead with about seven minutes still to play in the first half. After that, a strong combination of crisp passing and short-range shots built a 43-21 halftime lead. Already, junior Sierra Giffrow and freshman Hannah Cornelius had 13 points each, and the Bombers looked as streamlined as at any other time during the season.
In the second half, senior Emily Lindquist found her scoring touch from inside and out and knocked home 15 points to finish with a game-high 23. Junior Maddie Nelson tallied eight in the half, and Braham led 66-27 when running time began with nine minutes to go. Defensively, Braham played extremely well all game.
Giffrow finished with 17, while Cornelius dumped in 16. Nelson and junior McKenna Grams contributed nine and eight points, respectively, while senior Amelia Fiedler rounded out Braham’s scoring with four more.
The Bombers had split their two games against the Eagles during the regular season, each team winning at home, and both finished 9-5 in the Great River Conference. However, the Eagles’ steady defense and patient offense enabled them to keep ahead of the cold-shooting Bombers. The Eagles’ 6’1” senior post Gillian Fogt often drew double coverage by Braham. Yet, Fogt still led the Eagles with 18 points and double-digit rebounds.
In the first half, East Central held four 1-point leads until, at 14-13, the Eagles stretched it to 24-14 with 1:35 to play. Braham finally broke the ice with a three by Cornelius and a pair of free throws by Nelson. At the break, East Central’s lead was 24-19.
During the first half, the Eagles lost starters Bella Lourey-Bowen and Holly Grundmeier due to apparent ankle injuries. Neither returned to the game, but Eagles’ reserves filled in very well, and Braham’s 7-of-17 free throw shooting in the half certainly didn’t help the Bombers’ cause.
Giffrow opened the second half scoring to narrow Braham’s deficit to just three, but the Eagles wasted no time in re-establishing control. With 9:23 to go, the Eagles had a 33-24 lead, and continued cold shooting by Braham eventually enabled that lead to grow to 39-26 with 4:17 to play.
Down the stretch, Braham had no answer. East Central hit 6-of-10 free throws in the final two minutes to seal the victory. Lindquist led the Bombers with 13, finishing her career with 1,344 points, while Cornelius added 6, Giffrow 5, Nelson 4, Grams 3 and Fiedler 2.
After the game, Eagles’ coach George Swanson commented on his team’s win. “It’s all about match-ups.” he said. “Braham beat up on some teams that we struggled against.” He named Isle as an example. “Tonight, we matched up well.”
Jackets bounced hard from playoffs
C-I’s section 7AAAA quarterfinal game against Forest Lake wound up getting postponed by a day thanks to the closing of the Cambridge-Isanti schools during the investigation of a possible threat of violence last Wednesday, Feb. 28.
That postponement, however, only seemed to delay the inevitable as the Jackets fell to the Rangers 76-26 just one day later. The Jackets were held to 16 points in the first half and only 10 points in the second half in the season-ending defeat.