Bemidji High School boys basketball: Jacks host section playoff game against Elk River Thursday
The Bemidji Lumberjacks boys basketball team becomes the final winter sports team to begin post season play when it plays host to Elk River tonight at 7 at the Fieldhouse.
Bemidji drew the No. 4 seed in the meet while Elk River was seeded fifth.
But as the Bemidji girls quintet found out to its sorrow last week, Elk River is a far stronger team than its record, playing a Twin Cities schedule, including 14 games in the Northwest Suburban League which includes the four ABC district schools, Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids and Champlin Park.
They finished 6-12 in conference play and 11-15 overall but have faced only two section teams, beating Buffalo by one point in their season opener and losing to St. Cloud Tech 77-35.
Tech, 26-0 on the year and third rated in the state, drew the top seed and will host No. 8 Brainerd in the other upper bracket game tonight.
In the lower bracket, No. 2 Buffalo hosts No. 7 Moorhead while third seeded Maple Grove entertains No. 6 Moorhead.
Action shifts to St. Cloud State Saturday for the semifinals with the title game at the same site March 19 at 5 preceding the Section 8-3A title game at 7.
Of the four games, Moorhead and Maple Grove have not met.
Maple Grove did beat Bemidji 77-58 at the Jacks holiday tournament.
Alex and Buffalo did meet once with Buffalo winning 65-51.
Bemidji enters the game at 16-9, the 16 wins matching Coach Jeff Brown's best year in 2005 when Bemidji went 16-10.
They are the most wins since the Jacks finished 18-6 under Mel Johnson in 1991.
After a slow 2-4 start, the Jacks rallied to win seven of their next eight, the lone loss coming at Apollo 74-73.
After losing to Grand Rapids and Moorhead on the road, they have won six of their last eight.
Five of their wins have come between 2-4 points with the team topping 70 points 11 times, two of them over 90.
Bemidji will be hoping to get the Elks into a run and gun type of game where they can use their quickness and shooting skills to score frequently.
They are blessed with four good three-point shooters around the perimeter who are capable of hitting 8-10 on a good night.
This has been one of their strong points all year.
But they will need good board work and stay out of early foul problems to stay with the Elks.
Ryan Rude and Ryan Telander will complete the baseline trio flanking center Simon Anderson. Ray Walker and Czar Woods will open at the guards.
And off the bench come Joe Kingery, Sam Weaver, Nate McGriff, Dan Frost and Tony Baumgartner who are capable of adding 15-20 points in any game.
Brown rates Elk River as a similar team to Duluth East though lacking the super star of a Dyami Starks.
Bemidji beat the Greyhounds here 72-68 Monday night.