BOYS BASKETBALL: Memorable victory for BHS in season finale as Jacks top Grand Rapids
BEMIDJI — Bemidji’s seniors may not have had the best final season, but Thursday they came away with a memorable 54-41 win over Grand Rapids at the high school gym.
“We are very satisfied,” Bemidji head coach Dan Ninham said of the win. “They are a big-time program, so to win on our home floor for our last home game is encouraging.”
The win was the last home game for seniors Joe Strong, Collin Rutledge, Jaylen Ingalls and Gabe Salander.
“It is a really big win,” Rutledge said. “It is a nice way to go out.”
A pair of three-pointers from James Hendricks helped the Lumberjacks jump ahead to an early double-digit lead at 14-4 with 13:30 remaining in the first half.
BHS (4-21) built the lead up to as many as 11 points at 20-9 on the heels of a Strong three-pointer from the corner, but Grand Rapids (15-9) climbed to within six at 24-18 with just over three minutes left in the half.
Hendricks added another three-pointer, this one from five feet behind the arc, to beat the buzzer and send the Lumberjacks to the locker room with a 29-20 lead.
Hendricks and Strong started the second half with the same hot shooting they demonstrated in the first half as they rattled off three consecutive connections from long distance to push the lead to 14 points at 38-24 with 15:30 left in the game.
“It was really big for us to start each half the way that we did,” Rutledge said. “We followed it up by playing good defense and shutting down their inside game.”
Hendricks and Strong led the way for Bemidji with 23 points each.
BHS saw its lead cut down to seven points on three separate occasions, but each time it answered with a basket and the defense tightened up to protect the lead.
“That was the best defense that we played all year,” Rutledge said of the defense down the stretch.
The win is the second in the last three games for Bemidji, as it defeated Sauk Rapids-Rice 72-60 last Saturday.
“It is good that we have played our best basketball as of late,” Rutledge said. “We have built some momentum heading towards sections.”
BHS will look to build off of its recent success when Section 8-4A playoffs begin next Tuesday.
“It is encouraging heading into next week,” Ninham said. “We will have to go on the road of course, but we talked about being competitive and we did that tonight.”
Bemidji 54, Grand Rapids 41
Grand Rapids (41) — Herring 7 0 14; Illikainen 3 3 9; Reitter 2 3 8; Thompson 2 0 5; Smokrovich 1 0 3; Shields 1 0 2. Totals 16 6 41.
Bemidji (54) — Hendricks 7 5 23; Strong 7 4 23; Cervenka 1 0 3; Salander 1 0 2; Rutledge 1 0 2; Ingalls 0 1 1. Totals 17 10 54.
Three-pointers: Bemidji 10, Grand Rapids 3
Fouls: Grand Bemidji 14, Grand Rapids 13
Halftime score: Bemidji 29, Grand Rapids 20