The Byron boys basketball team defeated defending state champion Plainview-Elgin-Millville March 14, 57-54 in overtime at Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester. With the win, the Bears clinched their first ever state tournament berth.
The Minnesota Class AA tournament kicks off Wednesday (March 20) in the Twin Cities. For more coverage and state information, see Page 12. Section 1AA Champions! Pictured from left to right: Tyler Coble, Jack Nelson and Cody Baumbach hoist the trophy and celebrate Byron's first trip to the
Photo by Keith Garvens
By David Richards
They made it. The boys from Byron earned the first state basketball tournament berth in school history with a 57-54 overtime win against Plainview-Elgin-Millville March 14 at the Civic Center Arena in Rochester.
Their recipe for success was a cup of potent offense, a heaping scoop of stingy defense and even a few drops of Jack Nelson's blood.
The No. 4-seed Bears (25-4) open Class AA tournament play tomorrow (March 20) at 8 p.m. at the Target Center.
They face off against No. 5-seed Annandale High School in the bracket's only first-round matchup to feature a pair of seeded teams.
"It's a tough draw," head coach Kerry Linbo said. "That's the toughest game, the No. 4 vs. No. 5."
The Annandale Cardinals boast a 20-9 record and hail from 145 miles northwest of Rochester.
They play a fast, up-tempo style of basketball and have scored 70 or more points 12 times this season. Byron, which has been dominant at times with its aggressive defense, has scored 70 or more points just once.
"They're extremely quick; they'll play seven or eight guys who have motors like (Byron guard) Buster Meyer," Linbo said. "Our job is going to slow them down. If we can do that, I think we can stay with them."
Against P-E-M, senior forward Brandon Schubert led Byron with 20 points and was 10 for 13 from the free-throw line. Nelson added 15, Joe Smith scored seven, Tyler Coble and Cody Baumbach each tallied six and Meyer finished with three.
The Bears stormed out to a 30-12 lead with a dazzling display that included Schubert scoring Byron's first four points and a pair of steals by Smith that ended with a nice, pump-move basket and a dish to Nelson for another score.
The Bulldogs erased an early 18-point deficit and took a 38-37 lead with 10:07 remaining in the second half.
"I think we struggled a little bit on "D" overall, but we got the stops when we needed them," Schubert said.
With 5:16 left, Byron led 46-43 when Nelson and a P-E-M player went for a loose ball, and Nelson ended up with a knee to his face. The Bears were called for the foul, which gave possession back to the Bulldogs and sent Nelson to the locker room.
Time was stopped to clear blood off the court, and Nelson ended up with a cut below his right eye, which had to be taped.
"I felt bad because I yelled at the trainer to hurry up," Nelson said. "I wasn't going to miss this game."
Nelson returned moments later, and the game was tied at the end of regulation.
In overtime, the Bears sealed the win after Nelson made four free throws, and Schubert scored one basket and a free throw as well.
With the score 55-54 with 6.9 seconds left, Nelson rebounded a Bulldog miss and ended up at the line shooting two.