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BOYS BASKETBALL: Brainerd tops Bemidji, Jacks still looking for first win

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BEMIDJI – The four-game homestand to begin the season is over and after Tuesday’s 83-64 loss to Brainerd the Bemidji boys basketball team continues its search for that elusive initial victory.

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During the season’s first two games the Lumberjacks took their opponents to the wire before losing 74-73 to East Grand Forks and 94-85 to St. Cloud Cathedral.

Bemidji’s Billy Baumgartner scored the Lumberjacks’ first points of the night against Brainerd. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

In the last two games, however, BHS has stumbled. Last week it dropped a 71-47 decision to Rogers and Tuesday it never challenged Brainerd.

“We have work to do and we must do that work quickly,” said Bemidji coach Dan Ninham following Tuesday’s loss. “We have had 20 practices to work on all we needed to do but in the last two games we didn’t execute like we wanted to. In the first two games we had opportunities but in the last two we have struggled on offense and on defense.”

As has been the theme this year, Tuesday’s tempo was rapid-fire as both teams employed an up-and-down pace.

The Warriors fared better in the hurry-up game and seven minutes into the action the visitors enjoyed a 22-11 lead.

Joe Strong brought BHS within 22-14 with a 3-point bucket from the left corner and Richard Seado’s inside basket courtesy of Billy Baumgartner’s  rocket pass through the paint trimmed the Jacks’ deficit to 22-16 with 10:18 to play in the half.

But Brainerd promptly regained momentum with an 11-0 run that upped its cushion to 33-16.

By intermission the Warriors stretched their lead to 50-26 and the outcome was decided.

“Our No. 1 goal is to compete and, at times during the last two games, we have done that,” Ninham said. “We have to know what our strengths are and we have to utilize those strengths.

“We need to be a force in the paint. We need to box out and get four guys inside for the boards. If we win the rebounding battle we win the game,” Ninham continued.

The Warriors extended their lead to 77-47 with four minutes to go and only a late BHS run against the Brainerd reserves allowed the Jacks to come within 20 points at the end.

“The kids have to use their basketball senses to quickly make the right decisions on the court,” Ninham said.

“It’s been tough at home so far this season and it’s going to be tough on the road,” the coach continued. “But we need to learn by our mistakes and learn how to compete.”

The initial road test will be Thursday when the Lumberjacks head west for a rematch with East Grand Forks. That will be the final contest prior to the holidays.

After Christmas Bemidji will play in a tournament hosted by Tartan.

BRAINERD (83): Scheflo 1, 0-0, 3; Reuer 1, 0-0, 2; T.Sauer 1, 0-0, 3; J.Sauer 4, 5-5, 14; McLefresh 1, 0-0, 3; Huber 1, 0-0, 2; Co.Bowman 2, 0-0, 6; Gearts 1, 0-1, 2; Blong 1,  3-3, 5; Comstock 7, 5-6, 19; Haug 4, 0-0, 11; Ch.Bowman 2, 0-0, 5; Hanson 3, 0-1, 6; Schuver 1, 0-0, 2. Totals: 30, 13-16, 83

BEMIDJI (64): Baumgartner 8, 4-4, 24; McNallan 4, 2-5, 10; Strong 3, 0-0, 9; Rutledge 1, 0-0, 2; Ingalls 0, 0-0, 0; Seado 3, 1-2, 7; Hendricks 0, 3-3, 3; Bruns 1, 0-0, 2; J.Misco 3, 0-0, 6; R.Misco 0, 1-2, 1; Huseby 0, 0-0, 0. Totals: 23, 11-6, 64

3-point FG: Brainerd 10, Bemidji 7 (Baumgartner 4, Strong 3)

Fouls: Brainerd 15, Bemidji 13

Halftime: Brainerd 50, Bemidji 26

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Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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