The Barnum girls basketball team hosted the Panthers from South Ridge in a big time Polar League showdown. Barnum entered the contest with an impressive record of 18 wins and three losses. South Ridge came to town with an impressive record of their own though at 17-4. This matchup did not disappoint the fans that rolled into the Barnum gymnasium as it took Barnum every single one of the 2,160 seconds the clock had to offer to take down the Panthers by a final score of 59-57. The entire game was played within a 13-point window, as neither team garnered a lead larger than eight points.
The Bombers opened up the game by scoring the first four points of the evening as the two senior post players Rayna Klejeski and Allison Marine each scored a basket in the paint. The back and forth game began in these early minutes of the game though, as South Ridge went on to create the first of many lead changes, scoring the next seven points to take a 7-4 lead. The two teams traded blows throughout the entire first half. After a jump shot from sophomore guard Janaya Jurek and an assist from Jacinda Wright to Klejeski, the Bombers led 14-13 with about five minutes remaining in the first half. A fury of Panther offense gave the visiting team what would be their largest lead of the evening, 21-16 with two minutes to go in the first half, along with all of the momentum. At this point though, the Bombers went on a key 14 to 4 point scoring run that tied over into the second half. The Bombers final seven points of the first half all came from the free throw line from Jurek and Marine.
Klejeski came out of the intermission on a mission. On their second possession of the period, Klejeski found Jurek for an open three-point shot. The next time down the court, Klejeski scored herself with a tough left-handed finish in the paint, followed immediately by taking a charge on the defensive end of the court. Klejeski continued her hot stretch, knocking down back to back jumpers and then found an open Wright for a three-point bomb that gave the Bombers the game’s largest lead 36-28 with 13:39 left on the clock. Now it was South Ridge’s turn to battle back though, and through a handful of steals and baskets at the rim, the game was tied once more 39-39 with 8 minutes remaining. Barnum again tried to run away from the Panthers after a pull-up jump shot from Jurek and a right hook shot from Klejeski pushed the lead back to five, but the experienced South Ridge squad eventually regained the lead 57-54 with just over one minute left to go. Down the stretch, Wright made a free throw and Klejeski had an offensive putback to tie the game 57-57 with seconds remaining. After Barnum got the last stop they needed, they dribbled down to set up the final play of the game. Jurek drove down the lane and missed a runner, but the scrappy 5’3” guard battled to get her own rebound and flipped the ball in off the glass just as the buzzer rang, giving the hometown Bombers a 59-57 victory. Barnum head coach Mariah Minkkinen was happy with the victory. “They are a tough, well coached team,” Minkkinen said. “Even though we lacked energy at times tonight, our girls showed up and played hard down the stretch. We are proud of the way they battled it out against a tough opponent.”
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