Bemidji boys basketball team ready for rubber match with Lakers
Section 8-3A is loaded with quality boys basketball teams and 3:45 p.m. today at St. Cloud State two of them, Bemidji and Detroit Lakes, will lock horns in the section semifinals.
BHS ended its regular season 20-5 and Detroit Lakes finished 19-7. The Lumberjacks were seeded second in the section and the Lakers were third. Each club posted a victory in its opening-round playoff game, both harbor aspirations of qualifying for the state tournament and neither is ready to have the winter come to an end.
Prior to the Bemidji-Detroit Lakes match-up top-ranked St. Cloud Apollo will face defending section champion Little Falls which entered the tournament as the fifth seed.
"Any one of the four teams could win the section," said BHS coach Jeff Brown. "This is when the season becomes fun."
During the regular season Bemidji and Detroit Lakes split a pair of games. A month ago the Jacks edged the Lakers 78-74 in Detroit Lakes but on March 4 Detroit Lakes returned the favor 68-54 in Bemidji.
"This is the rubber game and it's going to come down to effort and execution," said BHS senior Ryan Rude.
"The last time we played Detroit Lakes I think they outworked us and we can't let that happen again. We will need to bring it on. Everybody has to play together and we will have to play at a high intensity the entire game."
Senior center Grant Richardson understands what is on the line and he also knows that the Lakers are not going to go down without a battle.
"We are going to have to come out and play with moxie," Richardson said. "If we come out hitting our shots and play strong defensively we should be able to come through with the win."
Bemidji and Detroit Lakes are regular combatants and nothing either team will do today will surprise the other.
"The kids on both sides know each other and psychologically, neither team will have an advantage," Brown said. "Detroit Lakes is bigger but we are quicker. We shoot better from the perimeter but Detroit Lakes is a better rebounding team.
"For us to win we will have to play with intensity, keep our poise and convert our open shots," the coach continued.
Rude believes that Bemidji's ticket to victory will be punched if the Lumberjacks take advantage of their guard play.
"Detroit Lakes has three tough inside players and we will have to stop them but our guards and our quickness are what we have over them and if we utilize (those assets) to the best of our ability, like we have all year, we'll be fine."
"We know Detroit Lakes' weaknesses and we plan on attacking them," Richardson added.
A year ago Bemidji reached the section semifinals only to lose to eventual champion Little Falls. That experience should prove to be an ally today, according to Rude.
"I'm sure there will be some nerves but we were in this game last year and we learned from that," Rude said. "I think we might have been scared last year and we didn't come out as strong as we needed to.
"This time we plan on coming out on fire and playing 'go-go-go' basketball."
Today's semifinal winners will advance to Thursday's 7 p.m. Section 8-3A title game at St. Cloud State.