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Kelsey Heisler and the Bemidji girls basketball team can reach the state tournament with a victory tonight in the section championship game. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji HS girls basketball team shoots for state against Hibbing Thursday

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The Bemidji High girls basketball team heads to Hibbing tonight facing the final step towards a trip to the state meet next week.

Bemidji will take on the Hibbing Bluejackets at 7 at the Hibbing Memorial Building, a game matching the top two seeds in Section 7-3A.

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Bemidji drew an opening round bye, then cruised past Grand Rapids for the third time 72-44.

Hibbing ousted Duluth Central 63-39 and outslugged Hermantown 92-74 to reach the final.

The visitors bring a 25-1 record into play, the 25 wins the most in school history .

Hibbing is not far behind at 22-5, winning its last 11 starts.

Its losses have come to DeLaSalle, Duluth East, Bigfork and Pequot Lakes along with a 70-57 setback at home to Bemidji.

But the Jackets cannot be taken lightly since they pack a good scoring punch topping 70 points 11 times topped by the Hermantown splurge.

They feature a solid shooting guard in Lacey Grahek who can hit 20-30 on a given night.

She carries an 18..2 average and leads the area in steals with 4.8 and is second in assists at the same figure.

The Jackets also have two solid rebounders in Kellie Lange (9.6) and Brianna Zunich (8.9)

Grahek had 22 in the first Bemidji game. Hilary Baumgartner had 10. But no one else reached double figures.

Hibbing surprised Bemidji with its physical style of play in that game although Bemidji jumped in front 30-15 at the start before the home team fought back to cut the margin to six at the break.

Bemidji added another seven to the margin after the break outscoring Hibbing 30-23.

Kayla Hirt hit 36 in that game to tie her own school record. She had since upped that figure to 40 and is fast approaching the 700 point season total which she should reach at the state provided Bemidji gets there.

It has not been to the big event since 2001, the first year under Bob Luoma. It defeated Forest Lake in its opener before bowing to Lakeville and St. Paul Central.

It also finished 1-2 in 1986 and 1994 and lost its only start in 2000 when there was no consolation bracket.

Coach Rick Kehoe will have one change for tonight.

Kelsey Heisler will join Hirt up front with Erika Weimann, Megan Huseby and Kenzie Kane outside.

Kane replaces Abby Hendricks who sustained an ankle injury in the Grand Rapids win.

First off the bench will be Jess Yost to add more size up front, Selina Gilbertson and Caitlin Gangelhoff.

Rounding out the tournament squad will be Maren Erpelding, Summer Monsrud, Grace Felling, Jenna Sagedahl, Cory Treat and Kellie Morehouse.

Weimann has been in double figures 11 times and Heisler nine.

On the other hand, Hirt has been below 20 only four times, three of them coming in one sided contests where she had limited playing time.

The addition of the two freshmen, Yost and Kane, has added more scoring punch since they were elevated to full time varsity play in late December.

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