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Area boys basketball: Bemidji area teams hope to peak during playoffs

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By Pat Miller pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com BAGLEY – Last season the Flyers fell only a few points short of advancing to the state tournament, losing 47-42 to Perham in a hard-fought Section 8-2A championship game at the Bemidji State University gym. Led by a great group of seniors and the coaching of Chuck Anderson Bagley compiled a 50-10 record over the two-year period that ended last March but lastseason Perham was the one team the Flyers could not defeat when it counted. Anderson guided Bagley to a 23-7 record last winter and shortly after the season he retired. Darin Carstens has taken his place and he hopes to lead the Flyers to another successful year. “We want to improve every game and be competitive, hopefully out-working our opponents,” Carstens said. “We have a good core group of guys and, hopefully, we can compete with everyone in a solid section and conference.” The Flyers opened the campaign with a pair of losses in their first three outings. Bagley defeated Clearbrook-Gonvick 92-72 but fell 69-52 to Pequot Lakes and 86-51 to Park Rapids. Carstens inherited a team that features eight seniors including captains Riley Knutson, Luke Thompson and Patrick Thompson. Among the other Flyers expected to see significant playing time are seniors Brady Laudon and Marcus Malterud, junior Kameron Anderson plus sophomores Jordan Loiland and Justin Olson. “We will be quick and should be okay on defense but we lack experience and post players,” Carstens said. Bagley continues its season Friday at home against Fertile-Beltrami. Kelliher-Northome The Mustangs should be a factor in the Northland Conference and in Section 8A this year and coach Bob Stueven believes that a berth in the state tournament is within the team’s grasp. “It should be an exciting year for the Mustangs in terms of setting and breaking personal and team goals as students, teammates and basketball players,” Stueven said. “For the past seven years we have yet to make it past the second game in the playoffs and our goal this year is to be playing for the spot to state.” Battling for a state-tournament berth is a possibility because of the experience in the Mustangs’ lineup. The returning senior lettermen include Keith Shaughnessy, Caleb Schneider, Tristan Williams, Travis Olafson and Justin Lindley. The junior letterwinners are Isaiah Rahier, Mark Geerdes, Brenin Head and Jarrett Burns while the sophomore crew includes Nate Anderson and Eli Rahier. “We are very deep this year with experience and talent,” the coach said. “In most of the positions we can substitute and not lose any skills.” Kelliher-Northome lacks the big post player but Stueven believes that the tenacity and the leadership of the veterans will help counter that deficiency. “We have numerous leaders, from seniors to sophomores,” the coach said. “Some of the leaders are vocal and some just lead by example and hard work.” The Mustangs dropped their opener 84-63 to Walker-Hackensack-Akeley but bounced back to thump Pine River-Backus 74-51. On Friday Kelliher-Northome will host Clearbrook-Gonvick. Clearbrook-Gonvick The Bears are in a rebuilding process and coach Carl Jacobs is hoping that the underclassmen can make immediate contributions. “Our goal is to get better as the season progresses and as our younger players get more experience,” Jacobs said. “We want to be the surprise team and go deep into sectional play.” Among the players who will be expected to lead C-G this winter are seniors Logan Hamnes and Verdell Beaulieu, juniors Tanner Pletschett, Reegen Hetland and Nick Bodensteiner plus freshmen Sam Lavin, Ben Anderson and Hunter Churness. “We were few in numbers to begin with but we are also starting the season with two projected starters, center and captain Tyler Johnson and shooting guard Alex Barrett, both unable to play because of injuries,” Jacobs said. “The three talented freshmen are going to have to step up quickly and be major contributors on the varsity level if we are to be successful.” Beaulieu led Clearbrook-Gonvick in scoring with 16 points a game and in rebounding with 10 per outing. “I think Verdell, at 6-3 and 210 pounds, has the potential to be one of the premier small forwards in our section,” the coach said. “He worked hard in the offseason to improve all aspects of his game. “As a team our goal is to consistently out-hustle and work harder than our opponent night after night,” Jacobs continued. “We have a very short bench and a lack of game experience but our strengths will be our rebounding and motivation to work. We have nothing to lose as this team and program is rebuilding for the future.” Blackduck The success of Blackduck’s baseball team last spring spilled into the football program during the fall and resulted in a very successful campaign. Many of those athletes now turn their attention to the basketball court and coach Grant Mistic is hoping that the trend continues. “First and foremost, the goal is to win the conference and then go from there,” Mistic said. “If we can stay healthy and win the conference, we’ll be in good shape to make a run into the playoffs.” “We return four returning starters and those players and our overall experience should be strengths,” Mistic said.”We have a good mix of size, guard play and athleticism. “But our weakness could be our depth,” the coach continued. “We have only one sophomore out but we have 10 freshmen playing. Some of the depth will be young and, hopefully, they can step up and contribute.” The seniors include Dominic Anderson, Dylan Weisert, Mitch Sparby, Brad Kusper and Shane Fenske. Among the juniors are Trey Volk, Jacob Krabbenhoft, Brennan Pemberton, George Seperteladze and Dylan Dexter. “Our leaders would be our whole team,” Mistic said. “It takes the team effort to be successful. It’s a long season with ups and downs and these kids are all quality kids who can lead in different ways.” Cass Lake-Bena Tradition is always a strength and Cass Lake-Bena has built a reputation of winning that coach Brian Michaelson hopes will continue this winter. “I look forward to this season. Our younger guys see the challenges we will face with our inexperience and they have used that inexperience as a motivation to push themselves harder than ever in practice,” the coach said. The Panthers return senior lettermen Jordan Collins, Anthony Swanholm, Marcus Fowler, Ken Cloud and Bryce Premo, junior letterwinner Josh LaDuke plus sophomore letterman Damian Kingbird. “Marcus put in a lot of time this summer and really has the passion for the game,” Michaelson said. “He leads by his defense and hustle. Josh played some minutes last year and has stepped up to his new role this year as a starting guard. “Damien is our utility guy, playing multiple positions He is very coachable and has a great deal of potential,” the coach added. “I think a strength will be our experience down low and I think we are a bit quicker in the back court with our guards,” Michaelson said. “But we are young and overall not as big as in the past.” Red Lake The Warriors opened the season with three victories and coach Roger White expects that trend to continue. “We set the goal to win our conference, sub-section and section,” White said. Leading Red Lake will be seniors Aaron Beaulieu and Darion Cobenais plus junior Ryan Holthusen. Joining the trio as players expected to see extensive court time are seniors Terrell Charnoski, Nicholas Roy and Russell Barrett, junior Trevenn Beaulieu plus sophomores Jalen Jones, James Jourdain and Russell Kingbird. “We will be a good transition team,” White said. “The players play well together and find the open player but we have a few players who don’t have much varsity experience but who will see a lot of playing time.”

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pmiller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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