This game pitted two defending state champs against each other, and didn't disappoint in the least bit.
The Bombers, backed by an enthusiastic crowd of Braham locals that made the trip down to the Target Center in Minneapolis, led most of the first half. A flurry of outside shooting by Graves left Dudley in control heading into the final minutes, but a 3-pointer Alex Thiry put Braham in the lead in the final seconds. A Graves put back sent the game into OT.
In the extra session, Isaiah came out and immediately nailed a midrange floater in the lane before handing the reigns over to his young brother Noah. Noah connected on a contested 3-pointer from the corner and was fouled in the process. While he missed the free throw, the shot cut into Dudley's 4 point lead at the time. He would repeat the same shot on the next possession, and later connect on two free throws to seal the win.
"That team can play," Dalhman said. "I don't know if we've played a better team with a better player than Graves. I didn't have my shot going early, but eventually I started hitting them. It was just fun to back and forth."
In addition to his 30 points, Isaiah shot 12/25 from the floor while adding 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Noah, a junior, finished with 20 points on 9/11 shooting, along with 12 rebounds.
Graves, who wowed the crowd in the second half with several NBA-range 3-pointers and numerous fancy dribble-drive scoring moves, led the way for Dudley with 28 points. Highly regarded junior power forward Kenny Belton finished with 15.
The big news out Braham in 2006 is that the Bombers actually lost a game. After 65 straight wins and two straight Minnesota Class AA State Championships, Braham fell to Eden Prarie 80-67 at a holiday tournament. The Dudley game may have been Braham's biggest challenge left on the schedule.
The Dahlmans have become heroes in their small town, and it appeared that most of Braham was actually in the stands for Saturday's contest.
"Not many people get to be in the place that I am with this type of team and this type of community," Dahlman said about the fan support. "I am very fortunate, and I thank God for it."
While Dahlman certainly didn't play his best game of the season, he still controlled this one from start to finish. Braham was physically outmatched at nearly every position, but Dahlman still managed to find creases in the Dudley defense. He pulled up for midrange jumpers off the dribble, attcked the basket, and found his teammates for open looks.
So just what type of player is Michigan State getting? Dahlman isn't your prototypical Spartan wing. While standing 6'7, Dahlman weighed in at just 173 pounds this summer at Nike camp. He uses his length and versatility to be effective, equally capable of leading a fast break, pulling up for an outside jumper, or slashing all the way to the basket.
"Every time I watch (Michigan State) I want to go there more and more. I think I can go in and help them right away," Dahlman said of his future role for the Spartans. "I need to gain a little weight, but hopefully I can help out."
It should be interesting to see how Dahlman fits in on a team that will be in need of bodies on the wing. In Michigan State's shootout against Gonzaga at the Maui Classic, Dahlman would have been right at home. He is very effective in the open court, and can do a lot of things well in that type of setting.
Last weekend's physical contest against Ohio State may have been a different matter. It could take some time and some significant physical development before Dahlman is ready to excel in a battle-it-out, Big Ten style affair.
In any case, he knows that his fans back in Braham will be supporting him.
"They love Michigan State now that I am going there. Michigan State seems like it is right here, and they have really been supportive. I love them for it."