A Dahlman family tradition

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 13, 2012 - 11:33 PM

Braham's Rebekah Dahlman, on the cusp of a state scoring record, is the latest of her clan driven to succeed.

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Braham's Rebekah Dahlman, center, is on the verge of breaking the all-time scoring record for high school girls' basketball in Minnesota. She likely will do so when her team plays Wednesday in the state tournament.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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BRAHAM, MINN.

Rebekah Dahlman comes from a bloodline rich in basketball tradition but not even family members who have played before her on the high school stage have done what she's about to do.

Not her grandfather, John Kundla, a Hall of Fame coach for the Gophers and Minneapolis Lakers. Not brothers Isaiah or Noah, both prep stars who later played college basketball. Isaiah once held the boys' basketball state record for points in a career (3,366) before moving on to Michigan State. Noah, who played for Wofford, still holds the state record for rebounds in a season (574 in 2007).

When Rebekah takes the floor Wednesday at Target Center, she will lead Braham into a Class 2A quarterfinal game against New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (30-0) with 3,866 points, 22 shy of the state scoring record set by Minneapolis South's Tayler Hill, who concluded her career in 2009.

And she is only a junior.

Dahlman is the driving force behind the defending champion Bombers (29-1). Against Esko in the Section 7 final last weekend, she nailed a three-pointer to force the second overtime. Then she scored 12 of her team's 14 points to help the Bombers win by double digits.

During the game, she broke the state's single-season scoring mark of 1,023 points formerly held by Kierah Kimbrough of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River in 2005.

But Dahlman's game is not all about scoring. It's about winning. Her team is making its fourth consecutive trip to the state basketball tournament. Remarkable by itself, but even more so for her town on the heels of five consecutive years of state trips by the school's boys' team.

"Whatever I can do to get that basket, I'm going to do it," said the fifth-year varsity player, who is averaging 35.5 points per game this season. "And there is no way that happens without my teammates."

Her coach, Tim Malone, appreciates his star's attitude.

"I've got our girls pretty convinced that the most important stat is the 'W' or the 'L,'" he said. "They go out and do everything they can to make sure that happens."

In fact, when Dahlman broke the single-season mark last week, "I did not share it with her and we did not talk about the single-season record up in Duluth," Malone said. "We had been so focused and caught up in making it back to the state tournament. And the thing is, she's back for another year."

'Millions' of baskets shot

Asked about her shooting, Dahlman hemmed and hawed before she guesstimated she's shot "millions" of baskets with her family during her 17 years.

"I probably first picked up a basketball in kindergarten," Dahlman said.

She paused.

"No, probably when I was born."

One of six children, she'll spend minutes gushing over her five other sports-fanatic siblings. It all started, she said, with her grandpa.

"There's a picture of him on [former Lakers star] George Mikan's shoulders," she said. "It's the cutest picture ever."

A Dahlman has played on most of those nine Braham teams involved in the state tournament streak. All she wants to do is keep the family's winning tradition alive.

"I mean, I know I'll probably break that [scoring] record," she said. "But in the end it's all about winning that state championship."

Some epic three-on-three battles have erupted at the family's home hoop.

"Definitely some tears here and there along the way," Rebekah said. "I hate to lose. I'd do anything not to lose."

Limitless future

Division I coaches -- up to five at a time this season -- flock to the Braham gym to see Dahlman. She's scored enough points to more than double the population of Braham, about an hour's drive north of the Twin Cities. She has received upwards of 30 Division-I offers from the Big Ten to the ACC.

"I've never coached a player that can sustain at such a high level," said Gerard Coury, Dahlman's North Tartan AAU coach. "Coaches always tell a player to play hard. You don't have to do that with her, she just does it."

Dahlman's career numbers might appear inflated because Braham's schedule is mostly against smaller schools, which doesn't concern those who've watched her play.

"It's a debate that could go on forever," Malone said. "But no matter what class you're in, you have to keep advancing your season year after year. She's here, and she's not going anywhere. She loves her family and she loves Braham."

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