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Rebels surge past Bombers

It was a tale of two halves last Saturday when No. 4 seed Moose Lake/Willow River and neighboring No. 5 seed Barnum met in the Section 7AA boys basketball quarterfinals in Hermantown. The Bombers came out on fire and surged to a 15-point halftime lead, only to have the Rebels come storming back to sneak away with a 64-63 win.

"The first half we executed everything, we took care of the ball and we played really good defense," said Bomber head coach Rich Newman.

While Newman was ecstatic about how his team opened the game, ML/WR head coach Paul Dewey was trying to find the right recipe to get his team back into the game after they trailed at one point by 17 points.

"We came out flat and couldn't make a shot and Barnum was absolutely on fire," Dewey said. "It got to the point where we didn't want to waste timeouts in the first half because of the way things were going."

Barnum raced out to a 37-22 halftime lead and looked like an unbeatable juggernaut. Things changed in the first few minutes of the second half when the Rebels went on a 13-0 run.

Suddenly, it was a new game.

"Nolan (Nelson) made a 3-pointer right away to start the second half, and it seemed like he just needed to break the seal," Dewey said. "Once he did, things got on a roll for us."

Eventually, ML/WR had a five-point lead late in the game, but the Bombers had an answer themselves and a series of crazy events ended the game.

With the Rebels up by five points with 55 seconds remaining, Barnum stole the ball and Julian Beckstrand made a 3-point shot. After a Barnum free throw, ML/WR was fouled and had Eli Youngs at the charity stripe in a one-and-one situation. His team was up by a point with 7 seconds remaining in regulation.

"Eli is one of our best free throw shooters," Dewey said.

Unfortunately, this time Youngs missed the front end of the one-and-one, which resulted in a mad scramble. Eventually, the ball landed in the hands of Barnum senior Hayden Charboneau, who launched a long 3-pointer that appeared as if it were going through the hoop.

"That was tough, because the ball went halfway down and then just rimmed back out of the basket," Newman said. "It really looked like it was going in and then it just kind of came back out."

The clock expired and the Rebels were celebrating a huge win while the Bombers had to deal with a tough loss.

Barnum was led in scoring by Julian Beckstrand with 16 points. Carlos Beckstrand scored 14 and Charboneau finished with 12. Pierce Korpela, Bryce Ferguson and Brock Hurst all scored 6 points each while Owen Peterson chipped in 3.

The Rebels got a game-high 20 points from Youngs, while Nelson finished with 19 points. Adam Neumann scored 8. Kaden Robbins added 7 and Luke Dewey recorded 5. Layne Radzak finished with 3 points while Reese Bode scored 2.

The win improved the Rebels record to 21-7 on the season and a spot in the semifinals against No. 1 seeded Esko Wednesday. Esko defeated ML/WR 89-65.

No. 2 seed Pequot Lakes played No. 6 seed Staples/Motley in the other semifinal on Wednesday night.