BEMIDJI – Jessa Lusby’s 3-point shot from the right wing at the buzzer clanked off the rim, and the missed shot resulted in a missed opportunity for the Bemidji High School girls basketball team.
The Lumberjacks spotted Hibbing a 28-15 lead with five minutes to go in the first half but BHS had battled back and drew even at 64-64 with 40 seconds remaining in the game.
The Bluejackets scored with 22 seconds to play to regain the lead and the visitors eventually hung on for the 66-64 victory when Lusby’s 3-pointer bounced off the iron.
Tuesday’s result was a disappointment for the Jacks and coach Rick Kehoe because Bemidji had opportunities to win its first game after opening with three losses.
“We took strides forward,” the coach said. “When we ran our offense we got good looks at the basket. But at times it seemed as if we completely forgot what we were doing offensively.”
When the Lumberjacks (0-4) took care of the ball, they were tough to defend. During the first 13 minutes BHS committed 13 turnovers and those mistakes enabled Hibbing (3-1) to forge its 28-15 advantage.
In the final five minutes of the half, however, the Jacks did not commit a turnover. That stretch of successful possessions brought BHS within 36-33 at the break.
“We ran our offense pretty well for awhile and when we did that we were tough to defend,” Kehoe said. “In the right situations we can shoot the ball and those situations are after ball reversals and after kickouts from the inside.
“But our problem is that we need to do those things more consistently.”
By intermission BHS center Jess Yost had 12 points and was on her way to establishing the inside. The senior also had only two fouls at the break but with 14:31 to play in the second stanza she drew her fourth foul and was forced to the bench.
Yost returned with 11:49 to play but nine seconds later she was flagged with her fifth foul.
Hibbing’s post player, Chanowa Sellman, also was hampered by fouls and she joined Yost on the sidelines with five fouls a minute later.
BHS trailed 53-41 when Yost became a spectator and Bemidji was forced to rally without the services of its big gun.
And the Lumberjacks slowly worked their way back into contention. Greta Steever’s bucket from the side and Kelsey Olson’s put-back drew the Jacks within 53-45, and a few minutes later a free throw by Dani Gronhovd with 2:19 to play evened the score at 61-61.
Bemidji tied the game on two other occasions, the last at 64-64, but never was able to grab the lead.
And the last opportunity to do that ended when Lusby’s shot bounced off the rim.
Yost scored 14 points before fouling out. Olson added 11 and Steever 10.
“This was a game we could have won and should have won,” Kehoe said. “We can play basketball. We have stretches when we are pretty tough to beat. But now we have to learn to play that way all of the time.”
The Lumberjacks (0-4) will have two opportunities to notch their first victory this weekend when the visit Rogers on Friday and St. Michael-Albertville on Saturday.
HIBBING (66): Marano 0, 0-2, 1, 0; Deegan 0, 0-0, 3, 0; Weisbrick 6, 2-3, 1, 15; Greenwood 4, 0-0, 5, 8; Matetich 2, 0-4, 2, 4; Wirtanen 0, 0-0, 1, 0; Swanson 9, 5-6, 4, 25; Sellman 5, 3-3, 5, 13; Warner 0, 1-2, 2, 1. Totals: 36, 11-20, 24, 66
BEMIDJI (64): Lusby 3, 3-4, 3, 9; Myhra 0, 0-0, 1, 0; Olson 5, 0-2, 0, 11; Greendahl 2, 2-4, 2, 6; Yost 4, 6-6, 5, 14; Gronhovd 2, 3-5, 1, 8; Palmer 2, 2-2, 3, 6; Steever 5, 0-4, 2, 10. Totals: 23, 16-23, 17, 64
3-point FG: Hibbing 3, Bemidji 2 (Olson 1, Gronhovd 1)
Halftime: Hibbing 36, Bemidji 33