BEMIDJI – In the waning seconds of Thursday’s 71-46 loss to St. Michael-Albertville, the Bemidji boys basketball players were double-teaming the ball carrier and trying to end the contest with a steal and a bucket.
The outcome had been decided much earlier in the contest but Lumberjacks coach Dan Ninham was continuing to instill a work ethic that calls for constant movement, hustle and desire.
“We are a developing program and we are preparing guys for battle,” said Ninham, whose team is still searching for the elusive first victory after opening the year with nine losses. “We will battle to the last second because there is no quit in the boys.”
The Jacks continued to press until the final buzzer despite being exhausted. A short bench was trimmed even tighter Thursday with the absence of senior Connor McNallan and junior Jaylen Ingalls.
McNallan broke his hand during the first game of the holiday tournament at Tartan and will be sidelined indefinitely. The player wants to return to the lineup, with the aid of a soft cast, within a week. The coaches and medical staff, however, expect his stay on the disabled list to be more extensive.
Ingalls missed Thursday’s game because of illness. The hope is that he will be available on Saturday when BHS hosts Moorhead at 5 p.m.
“We needed all of our bullets to stay with St. Michael. At this level you need all of your bullets to stay with everybody,” Ninham said. “So far this year we have played against very tough competition. At Tartan we faced three ranked teams and St. Michael is a solid program as well.
“Our goal is to move our program up to that level.”
Bemidji stayed with the Knights through the first few minutes Thursday but St. Michael-Albertville’s height and quickness eventually dictated the action.
A 3-pointer by Richard Seado gave the Lumberjacks a 9-7 advantage three minutes into the game but the visitors gained control with a 15-0 spurt that featured a trio of 3-point buckets and three baskets from the paint.
Joe Strong finally countered for Bemidji with a 3-pointer from the right wing which cut the deficit to 22-12 but by intermission the visitors had expanded their cushion to 38-19.
St. Michael-Albertville continued its attack in the second stanza and an 8-2 spurt to begin the half upped its lead to 46-21 and ended any hopes of a Lumberjacks comeback.
Moorhead will bring a 5-3 record into Saturday’s game and will provide another stiff challenge. The four-game homestand continues Tuesday against Thief River Falls and Jan. 8 against Duluth Denfeld.
“We have some teams coming up that we should be competitive with,” Ninham said. “Our goal is to win the games we should and surprise some of the other teams.”
St. Michael-Albertville (71): Winans 0, 0-0, 0; Greenwaldt 8, 2-2, 22; Evans 2, 0-0, 4; Krutzig 2, 0-0, 6; Monseth 0, 0-1, 0; Tracy 1, 1-3, 3; Freeman 3, 0-1, 6; Coulson 1, 0-1, 2; Rothstein 3, 0-1, 6; Sukalski 0, 4-5, 4; Johnson 2, 0-0, 4; Ferry 7, 0-1, 14. Totals: 29, 7-15, 71. 3-point FG: 6. Personal fouls: 19
Bemidji (46): Baumgartner 4, 4-5, 13; Sommer 0, 2-2, 2; Strong, 1 0-0, 3; Rutledge 0, 0-0, 0; Seado 6, 2-5, 17; Hendricks 0, 0-0, 0; Bruns 0, 0-0, 0; Misco 2, 0-1, 4; Huseby 3, 1-2, 7. Totals: 16, 9-15, 46. 3-point FG: 4 (Baumgartner 1, Seado 3). Personal fouls: 20
Halftime: St. Michael-Albertville 38, Bemidji 19