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Bemidji junior Jessa Lusby goes up for a shot as Grand Rapids' Kaitlyn Olson trails behind in the second half of Thursday's game. Pioneer Photo/Ben Karkela

Bemidji girls basketball: Jacks get even with Grand Rapids in 39-29 win

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In the Section 7-3A girls basketball semifinals a year ago Grand Rapids ended Bemidji's season with a one-sided 62-35 victory.

Lumberjacks junior forward Greta Steever still remembers that game and how painful it was to be on the receiving end of the contest.

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Thursday in Bemidji Steever and her teammates returned the favor, however, as Bemidji spanked the Thunderhawks 39-29.

"There was a little revenge factor (Thursday)," Steever, who scored 11 tough points in the paint, said. "Grand Rapids is always scrappy and so were we. You could tell that it got a little personal on the court."

Jess Yost paced Bemidji's offense with 13 points. Her 3-pointer with 7:15 to play in the first half gave BHS a 12-10 lead and the Jacks defense made sure that the visitors would not fashion a counter rally.

"Last year Grand Rapids had one of those games where everything it did was right and everything we did was wrong," Bemidji coach Rick Kehoe said. "In Thursday's game we wanted to change that and it all started with our defense. We're really getting after it defensively."

In addition to her 13 points Yost was instrumental to the defensive game plan. In the home opening 43-36 victory over Thief River Falls on Tuesday Yost posted a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 blocks. When the coaches watch the film of Thursday's game they might discover that Yost accomplished the feat once again.

"I'm sure Jess had more than 10 rebounds and I wouldn't be surprised if she had 10 or more blocks," Kehoe said. "Jess is the key to our defense. We can run the defense because we have Jess, at 6-2 and basketball savvy, patrolling the inside."

The Lumberjacks forged a 22-18 lead at the break and the defense fared even better in the second half, limiting the Thunderhawks to a mere 11 points.

Grand Rapids missed its first two shots and the third was rejected by Yost. The visitors did trim their deficit to 25-20 but Steever's bucket off an inbounds pass and Yost's drive through the lane increased Bemidji's advantage to 29-20.

And the Lumberjacks methodically added to their lead the rest of the way.

"This was a fun game to play," Steever said. "Offensively everybody worked to gain position and we were able to move the ball around until we got it to the right person at the right spot."

Thursday's victory was Bemidji's third in as many outings and Saturday the Jacks will shoot for their fourth win when they host St. Michael-Albertville at 5:45 p.m. A year ago BHS compiled a 7-17 overall record but the 2011-12 team could surpass that win total by Christmas.

"We've come into this season more prepared," Steever said. "We've changed everything from last year and have started over. So far things are working out."

Grand Rapids (29): Koss 1, 0-0, 2; K.Kane 2, 4-4, 10; Cleveland 1, 0-0, 2; Sondergaard 5, 0-0, 10; T.Kane 0, 0-0, 0; Anderson 2, 1-2, 5. Totals: 11, 5-7, 29.

Bemidji (39): Lusby 0, 0-0, 0; Sagedahl 0, 0-0, 0; Treat 1, 0-0, 2; Yost 4, 4-6, 13; Woods 3, 2-2, 8; Gronhovd 0, 0-0, 0; Hadrava 2, 0-0, 5; Steever 5, 1-2, 11. Totals: 15, 7-10, 39.

3-point FG: Grand Rapids 2, Bemidji 2

Fouls: Grand Rapids 15, Bemidji 8

Halftime: Bemidji 22, Grand Rapids 18

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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