Last Friday the Bemidji girls basketball team received a belated Christmas present during its trip to the St. Peter tournament.
Dani Gronhovd scored 17 points and hit the game-winning shot with 10 seconds to play to lift the Lumberjacks to a 55-54 victory over St. Peter in the opening round of the tournament.
The win was Bemidji’s first after eight losses. The next day BHS gave New Richland all it could handle before losing to the second-ranked team in Class 2A 58-51.
“It was a very good weekend for us,” said Jacks coach Rick Kehoe. “The girls were very excited to get the first win and to play so well in both games of the tournament. On the way home you could see a difference in how they carried themselves.
“After the games in St. Peter many people told us how impressed they were with our team and with how we played. They told us that we didn’t play like a 1-9 team,” the coach added.
Kehoe and his players are hoping that the holiday success becomes a springboard for similar performances in 2013 and this weekend they will have two chances to start the new year on a positive note when they host Detroit Lakes Friday night and entertain Cloquet Saturday afternoon.
“We have two winnable games this week and if we play like we did against St. Peter and New Richland we’ll be fine,” Kehoe said.
“I think last weekend should spark us and we talked about that on the way home from St. Peter. We talked about how we pulled things together against St. Peter after we were down by 12 points. We talked about how we limited our mistakes against New Richland and stayed with the state-ranked team.
“Mentally we are getting tougher and we’re not letting a mistake steamroll into more mistakes,” the coach continued. “We may be young but we’ve been through 10 games now and we are beginning to play with more maturity.”
Bemidji will have to play with maturity this weekend as the Lumberjacks face back-to-back games once again.
“Playing Friday night and Saturday afternoon is tough but we’re used to this type of schedule,” Kehoe said. “I actually like playing back-to-back early in the season because playing sore on that second day makes you mentally tough.
“If we could play tough against New Richland on the second day there is no reason why we can’t play tough this weekend,” Kehoe added. “When everybody handles their responsibilities we are a very good team and I think the kids are starting to believe that.”
Next week the Lumberjacks will test themselves on the road as they travel to Thief River Falls on Jan. 8 and Duluth East on Jan. 10.
Bemidji is still trying to find the formula that will result in its first victory. During the holidays the Jacks participated in a tournament hosted by Tartan. The field was very strong and BHS returned with losses to Tartan (94-44), Columbia Heights (82-73) and Spring Lake Park (78-47).
The 0-3 weekend dropped Bemidji to 0-8 on the winter. The Lumberjacks will have two opportunities this week to notch that elusive first win. On Thursday BHS hosts St. Michael-Albertville in a make-up of a game that was lost to the weather in mid-December. On Saturday the Jacks will entertain Moorhead.
Both games are listed for 7 p.m. starts.
A lack of offense plagued the boys hockey team during its trip to Duluth for a holiday tournament as it scored only two goals in three games.
In the tourney opener Bemidji lost 2-1 in overtime to Owatonna and the next day fell 1-0 to Buffalo. The Jacks capped their weekend with a 1-0 win over Detroit Lakes.
“We got the ‘W’ so we’re going in the right direction,” BHS coach Wade Chiodo said after the win over Detroit Lakes. “But we have got to score more goals. We gave up only three goals in this tournament and lost two games.”
Bemidji (3-8) will try to generate more offense this week when it heads to River Lakes on Thursday and visits Sartell Saturday afternoon.
The girls hockey team hasn’t played since blanking Brainerd 6-0 on Dec. 22. Bemidji is riding a four-game winning streak and will take a 4-5-4 record into Saturday’s game at Fergus Falls.
The boys swimmers will be home Thursday when they host Grand Rapids and Saturday finds the Jacks heading to Detroit Lakes for an invitational.
BHS has been off since Dec. 27 when it placed sixth at the seven-team Brainerd Invitational.
The wrestlers will spend the weekend in Hibbing for a tournament that begins Friday night and continues through Saturday. They spent the entire holiday away from competition and have been off since Dec. 21.
The skiers hope to compete at a meet hosted by Deer River on Saturday. That meet, however, remains a question because of current snow conditions. If the Deer River competition isn’t held coach Mark Walters will try to find an alternative venue.
Bemidji’s gymnasts have been off since Dec. 20 when they placed fourth of four teams at the Fargo South Invitational.
On Saturday they will head to the Park Rapids Invitational.