Nevis picks off Barnum again for section title


March 24, 2023


The Barnum boys basketball team earned second place in the Section 5A tournament, falling again to Nevis in the championship game in St. Cloud.

For the second season in a row, Barnum ended its season in the Section 5A championship game at the hands of the Nevis Tigers on Friday, March 17. The Tigers got off to a fast start and were able to come away with a 68-54 win over the Bombers.

"Nevis just has a great team and balance as a team," said Bombers longtime coach Rich Newman. "Their point guard is solid and all of them can hit shots and their coaching staff plays them in shifts."

At halftime, the Tigers had gained a 39-23 lead and were in control. Then the Bombers made some adjustments and outscored Nevis 31-29 in the second half, but the damage was done.

"They run a real sharp offense," said Newman. "They would come off the screens hard and they did a good job of taking advantage of pinning our guards down low and they'd [use] their height advantage."

Alex Lester was a thorn in the side of the Bombers in the first half, scoring 17 of his 21 points in the opening stanza as the Tigers gained the early lead.

On the other side of the court, the Bombers got a big game out of Layne Wickstrom. The senior finished with a game-high 22 points; he scored 12 in the first half and went 16-for-16 from the free throw line.

"Layne played his best basketball at the end of the season," Newman said. "Rebounding, handling the ball, defense, scoring, all of those things he did at the end of the season better than at any other time in his career."

Hayden Charboneau also finished in double-digit scoring for the Bombers with 10 points. Other Bombers in the scorebooks included Brady Coughlin with five points and Carlos Beckstrand and Thatcher Nelson with four points each. Gavin Thiry and Alex Nelson each scored two while Brock Hurst and Brooks Gustafson each had a point.

Barnum gained the title game by knocking off Kaleidoscope Charter School in a wild up-and-down affair that ended 46-39 Wednesday at Hinckley-Finlayson High School.

"With about 6 minutes left in the first half, we had only scored four points," Newman said. "Our defense kept us in it, but we couldn't make a shot. At times we were lost on offense and on defense, but to our kids' credit, they hung with it and ground out a big win."

At halftime, the Bombers trailed 17-15 and only two Bombers were on the scoreboard: Wickstrom had nine points and Carlos Beckstrand with six.

"In the second half we finally started to get settled in and Carlos started attacking the basket, which opened things up for us," Newman said.

Beckstrand's offensive aggressiveness paid off as he finished with 18 points and the Bombers outscored the Comets, 31-22, in the second half.

Layne Wickstrom had another solid game with 15 points and Charboneau added eight points. Hurst had three points and Bryce Ferguson made two in the semifinal game.

The victory was the 500th in Newman's 25-year career. The head coach was quick to give praise to others for that accomplishment.

"It's a program accomplishment," said Newman. "My assistant coaches through the years, the parents and, of course, the kids - for buying into what they have to do - as well as the school and so many others are all the reasons something like this happens."

Newman was also quick to give praise to his wife, Corina, and longtime assistant coach Dave Duesler.

"They both deserve a lot of credit," Newman said. "It really is a community family affair and everyone deserves a pat on the back, including Mike Carlson, who had been with me as an assistant for quite a few years."

As far as the season goes, Newman was pleasantly surprised at how well his team performed.

"It was a pleasure coaching these kids, I don't think many people thought this team would do much, and yet here they were back in the Section 5 championship game again," he said. "We had a good season, but had a little skid at the end of the year before the tournament and then we got on a roll at tournament time."

Barnum finished the season with a record of 16-13.


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