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Bemidji HS girls basketball team looks to build on strong start vs. Thief River Falls

The Bemidji High girls basketball team, one win under its belt, faces a pair of weekend games, heading to Thief River Falls tonight and traveling to Hopkins Saturday to meet Burnsville in the Hopkins Tip Off Classic.

Bemidji dominated the Prowlers last season winning 72-42 and 71-33 and will be heavily favored to repeat tonight.

The Prowlers opened their season Tuesday shading Detroit Lakes 63-62.

The Prowlers are a rebuilt unit from the one that ended 14-11 last year with only seniors Hailey Peterson and Lacey Stennes back from last year's regulars.

The Prowlers lack size which should play into Bemidji's hands with Kayla Hirt, Kelsey Heisler and Jess Yost up front. Coach Jeff Loe looks for the team to improve under fire du ring the year.

Saturday will provide the team's first major test at the Hopkins Tip Off Classic which stages six games on both Hopkins Lindbergh courts. Many of the top teams in the state will take part with the feature contest matching Lakeville North with Minneapolis Roosevelt.

Bemidji will play the final game on the east court starting at 5:45.

Earlier games on that court match St. Croix Lutheran with Braham, St. Paul Central with DeLaSalle, Sauk Centre with Delano, Benilde with Minneapolis South and Woodbury with Minnetonka.

On the main court, Maple Grove opens with Hill-Murray, New Prague faces Barnum, Caledonia meets Chaska, Bloomington Kennedy takes on Minnehaha Academy, Roosevelt challenge Lakeville and Hopkins closes with Centennial.

Nearly 40 Division I signees will be on the courts including Minnesota-bound Hirt. Burnsville counters with Molly Duehn, headed to Northern Colorado.

More than two dozen more are Division prospects.

Seven have signed Division II pacts among them Rachael Moen of Burnsville with St, Cloud.

More than 70 players are listed as collegiate prospects with another 55 possibilities.

Hirt and Duehn are two of six players who have topped the 1,000 point mark.

Minneapolis South and Caledonia are defending state champions.

This will mark Bemidji's first appearance in the Tip Off Classic which began in 2004.

Coach Rick Kehoe was well pleased with the offensive performance of his team in the opener.

The 92 points topped their best game last year, an 84 point night against Rocori.

He was less than pleased with the team defense that allowed 68.

"We can't give up that many points and expect to win against top quality teams."

In fairness, however, he used the game to experiment with various lineups, especially after rolling up a 55- 32 halftime lead.

"We discovered several lineups that played well on both ends of the court and others that did not fit well together."

He was particularly pleased with the play of freshman Jess Yost who came off the bench to score eight points and rebound well.

"She appears ready to give us heavy minutes this year.," he said.

Abby Hendricks and Heisler should flank Hirt at the start with Erika Weimann and Megan Huseby outside. Caitlin Gangelhoff and Selina Gilbertson should see extended play off the bench with Maren Erpelding, Jenna Sagedahl and Grace Felling also likely to play.

The B and C Teams will be after their first wins tonight. They will not play Saturday.