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GR proves lofty status

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Grand Rapids entered Saturday's game against the Bemidji High School boys basketball team rated third in the state's Class AAA ranks with a 21-2 overall record. And its performance at the Bemidji State University gym against the Lumberjacks showed why the Thunderhawks have earned the lofty reputation.

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"The difference between us and Grand Rapids is Grand Rapids doesn't make mistakes, especially down the stretch," said BHS coach Jeff Brown after his squad lost to the Thunderhawks 66-54. "The experience Grand Rapids has just got the better of us."

For much of the contest it appeared as if the Jacks would pull off the upset as Bemidji (15-8) owned a 49-45 lead with nine minutes remaining. BHS constructed that cushion by spreading the offense and applying constant defensive pressure.

"I was, as always, pleased with the effort," Brown said. "But I wasn't always pleased with the execution."

Among the latter was a 5-minute stretch which saw the visitors transform the 49-45 deficit into a 56-49 advantage. Grand Rapids began the rally with a fast-break bucket by Michael Johnson off the press and, following a missed Bemidji shot, the Thunderhawks tied the game as Eric Stark drove the lane.

On their next two possessions the Lumberjacks were whistled for an offensive foul and committed a turnover. Grand Rapids fared better as Kevin Rabbers hit a free throw and Brian Akre scored from the paint. Another BHS turnover led to a transition bucket by Austin Pohlen and Grand Rapids climaxed its decisive run with a driving hoop by Stark.

"We've seen the half-court trap a million times but we had three straight possessions against it with a turnover," Brown said. "We didn't handle some situations very well and they captialized, like a good team will."

Grand Rapids opened with a 16-8 lead, on the strength of three treys by Stark and another by Johnson. Bemidji responded, however, with an 18-7 run and led 29-26 at intermission.

Bemidji extended its cushion to 40-33 when Dan Frost drained a 3-pointer from the right circle with 13:40 to play in the game but Grand Rapids countered with a 10-2 spurt to take a 43-42 lead. Bemidji eventually forged a 49-45 advantage following five consecutive points by Rude but the Jacks could not stop Grand Rapids down the stretch.

"Grand Rapids is a very good team and forced us into making some mistakes," Brown said. "But this is the type of game we can learn from."

Rude finished with 16 points while Czar Woods had 12 and Dan Frost 11.

Stark scored 24 for the Thunderhawks and Johnson 18.

Grand Rapids 66, Bemidji 54

Grand Rapids: Johnson 4, 8-8, 2, 18; Stark 8, 5-6, 1, 24; Wilde 0, 4-4, 2, 4; Rabbers 0, 4-6, 4, 4; Akre 4, 1-2, 4, 9; Pohlen 3, 0-0, 1, 7; Sutherland 0, 0-0, 1, 0; O'Fallon 0, 0-0, 2, 0. Totals: 19, 22-26, 17, 66. 3-point FG: Johnson 2, Stark 3, Pohlen 1.

Bemidji: Rude 4, 7-9, 0, 16; Rutledge 0, 0-0, 1, 0; Kroening 0, 0-0, 1, 0; Brown 0, 0-0, 2, 0; Czar Woods 5, 0-0, 1, 12; Carey Woods 1, 4-4, 5, 6; Frost 4, 1-2, 2, 11; Kane 1, 3-3, 2, 5; Richardson 1, 0-0, 0, 2. Totals: 17, 15-18, 14, 54. 3-point FG: Rude 1, Czar Woods 2, Frost 2.

Halftime: Bemidji 29, Grand Rapids 26.

Junior Varsity

Bemidji 69, Grand Rapids 59

Grand Rapids: McLure 4, 0-0, 3, 10; Liebe 1, 1-1,1, 3; Laughlin 2, 1-2, 0, 5; Schoonover 0, 0-0, 1, 0; Skelly 1, 0-0, 1, 2; Bender 0, 0-0, 2, 0; Spoden 4, 2-3, 4, 10; Bibeau 3, 3-3, 3, 10; Anderson 5, 7-7, 4, 19. Totals: 20, 14-16, 19, 59. 3-point FG: 5.

Bemidji: Hengel 4, 0-0, 0, 9; Rutledge 1, 3-5, 1, 5; Fodness 0, 0-0, 2, 0; Supalla 0, 0-0, 0, 0; Hendricks 3, 3-4, 4, 11; Cervenka 6, 0-1, 2, 12; Berndt 0, 0-0, 0, 0; Vonasek 4, 0-0, 2, 10; Fraley 1, 2-2, 1, 4; Declusin 3, 2-2, 3, 8; Sullivan 4, 2-3, 3, 10. Totals: 26, 12-17, 18, 69. 3-point FG: 5.

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