A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

Bombers slip by tall South Ridge

Barnum managed to slowly slip ahead in the second half and grab a 47-41 boys basketball win over South Ridge on Friday night in a tightly played game in Barnum.

The game started slow and at halftime the Bombers led by a 16-14 score. From a Bomber standpoint, they struggled against a team that featured three players over 6-foot-5.

“I would say defense was the biggest factor in the low-scoring first half,” said Barnum coach Rich Newman. “We did not shoot well and that had to do with their size in the paint.”

The Panthers front line includes Austin Josephson who is 6-feet-10-inches tall, Slayton Stroschein at 6-foot-9 and Aaron Bennett, who is 6-foot-5.

“We don’t see a lot of teams willing to come down into the paint with our size,” said Panthers coach Phil Peliska. “It is always tough playing Barnum because you go in playing against what I feel is a Hall of Fame coach. Their gym has an unbelievable atmosphere with fans right on top of you and it makes for just a tough, tough place to go in and win.”

The Bombers struggled in the first half, so did the tree-topping Panthers, who garnered a total of just 14 points due to an aggressive Barnum defense.

“Coach Newman gets the absolute best out of his kids and they just play an aggressive in-your-face man defense which causes a lot of turnovers and that killed us,” Peliska said. “Our Achilles heel has been our turnovers and we had 29 against Barnum. You’re putting yourself into trouble with that many turnovers and it stopped us from getting into our offense where we had the size advantage.”

Barnum has just one player over six foot tall, so the half-court game would have favored the Panthers, but the stingy Bomber defense kept South Ridge from doing what they do best: feed Josephson inside.

“We kept up our defensive energy and hit some big shots and also we were able to get some steals and turn them into easy buckets,” Newman said. “We really worked on defense and tried not to make mistakes.”

The offenses picked up in the second half and the Panthers made it a two-point game with less than two minutes remaining, but the Bombers were able to deftly handle the ball and run down the clock.

Hayden Charboneau led Barnum with a 14-point night while both Willie Richardson and Joe Peterson were also in double-digits with 11 points. Evan Gustafson had nine points and Layne Wickstrom chipped in with two for Barnum.

“Our kids played hard through the whole game and kept good care of the basketball,” Newman said. “I was really happy with our energy and communication on defense. We also got good bench play from JJ Stevens and Layne Wickstrom plus we hit our free throws down the stretch, which made a difference.”

Newman has seen some solid progress from his team since the year started. “I am happy with our progress but we have a long way to go,” he said.

Aaron Bennett led the Panthers with 13 points; Josephson added 12 and Sheen Ralidak recorded 10 points to also score in double-digits. Stroschein finished with four points and Ashton Neudahl added two.

“I was pleased with how we played defense,” Peliska said. “We need to take better care of the ball and then everything else will fall in place for us. I am very optimistic about where this team is headed.”