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Boys basketball: Strong's 36 points carry Bemidji to victory

pat miller

SAUK RAPIDS — Joe Strong scored 36 points to lead the Bemidji boys basketball team to a 72-58 victory Saturday at Sauk Rapids.

Saturday’s win snapped an eight-game losing streak and was Bemidji’s third victory in 23 starts. Sauk Rapids fell to 0-23.

“Sauk Rapids decided to box-and-one James (Hendricks) and they were able to stop James but Joe came through,” said BHS coach Dan Ninham. “Joe scored 30 points in the second half, including 10 free throws at crunch time.”

Strong was limited to a pair of 3-pointers in the first half and the Lumberjacks trailed 31-25 at intermission. In the second stanza, however, Strong could not be stopped. His contributions in the final 18 minutes included six 3-pointers, a 2-point bucket and the 10 free throws in as many attempts.

Collin Rutledge added 13 points and Jens Huseby had nine.

“At halftime we keyed on what needed to be done to turn the game around,” Ninham said. “We went to a man-to-man defense and made the kids accountable. Offensively we hit three baskets to take the lead and then upped it to five and then seven points.

“Sauk Rapids eventually had to foul and they kept fouling Joe. And that was the wrong guy to send to the line,” the coach added.

“The kids showed a lot of heart. They kept at it and they stayed focused.”

BHS will continue a streak on Monday that sees the Jacks playing three games in four days when they host Thief River Falls at 7:30 p.m. That game was originally scheduled for Jan. 7 but was a casualty of the extreme cold that hit the area in January.

On Thursday Bemidji will end its regular season at home against Grand Rapids.

Bemidji (72): Hendricks 0, 1-3, 1; Rutledge 5, 3-5, 13; Peterson 0, 1-2, 1; Rose 0, 0-0, 0; Strong 9, 10-10, 36; Ingalls 0, 0-0, 0; Huseby 3, 0-0, 9; Cervenka 1, 0-0, 2; Anderson 1, 2-2, 4; Falkenberry 2, 0-0, 4; Salander 0, 2-2, 2. Totals: 21, 19-24, 72

Sauk Rapids (58): Burkland 3, 0-0, 6; Hassan 0, 0-3, 0; Lynch 1, 0-0, 2; Kranz 2, 1-2, 7; Waldorf 5, 2-2, 14; Landwehr 2, 0-0, 4; Boraas 9, 3-4, 25. Totals: 22, 6-13, 58

3-point FG: Bemidji 11 (Strong 8, Huseby 3); Sauk Rapids 8

Fouls: Bemidji 12; Sauk Rapids 20

Halftime: Sauk Rapids 31, Bemidji 25

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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