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Bemidji High School boys basketball: Little Falls ends Jacks' season

Bemidji's Josh Kane splits a pair of Little Falls' defenders during Saturday's Section 7-3A semifinal in St. Cloud. Photo special to the Pioneer/Matt Perkins, Morrison County Record

The Bemidji Lumberjacks left their shooting eyes in bed Saturday morning and were no match for Little Falls.

The Flyers took control at the outset and went on to a decisive 65-43 decision at St. Cloud State's Halenbeck Hall.

It matches Little Falls with Apollo in Thursday's title game at the same site. The Eagles, the No. 4 seed, ousted top seeded Rocori 54-50 in the 10 a.m. clash.

Little Falls won both regular season meetings 53-47 and 72-67 this winter.

Bemidji never led with Little Falls breaking an early 2-2 tie to move ahead 14-11after five minutes.

Then a run of nine unanswered points, five by Ethan Mustonen, sent them to a 23-11 margin which they expanded to 35-19 late in the period before Carey Woods hit two treys closing the half to bring Bemidji within 10 at the break 35-25.

They seemed to be turning things around in the early stages of the second period with a deuce and a trey from Dan Frost cutting the lead to 41-34 to end a 9-2 run.

But that was all she wrote.

Over the next 10 minutes, the Flyers built a 17-2 bulge, broken only by a Josh Kane field goal, to move to s 58-36 advantage and decide matters completely.

Dan Kornbaum provided his usual problem, hitting 12 points in the opening eight minutes but limited to 20 on the day, well under the 30 he scored in the 68-66 Bemidji win at home.

Zach Horejsi came off the bench to add 14 and Mustonen had 13 as that trio outscored Bemidji themselves. But six other players scored as the Flyers cleared the bench down the stretch.

Carey Woods had 12 for Bemidji. But no one else had more than seven and only Kane reached that total.

The 43 points was Bemidji's lowest output of the year. The previous two were 51 and 52 in a win and loss to Thief River Falls which played slow down games.

The difference in the game a was best told in the field goal percentages as Little Falls hit 60.5 while holding Bemidji to a weak 27.8, less than 20 percent in the second half.

Aside from that, the two teams were fairly even with each grabbing 31 rebounds and Bemidji having 14 turnovers to the Flyers 13.

"You can't expect to win shooting like that," said a disappointed Coach Jeff Brown. "We just couldn't buy a basket all day."

"Its a different level of play in the playoffs. Our young kids just weren't ready for it. The atmosphere was intense with the large crowds at St. Cloud. I think that we learned from the experience and should be far better for it in 2011.We'll start with seven of our top ten back which is a big plus."

The Jacks closed 17-10, the 17 wins the highest in Brown's eight seasons at the helm.

It was also was the best since Bemidji went 18-6 under Mel Johnson in1991.

"We had no counter today for Kornbaum. He simply was too big and too strong inside and did what he wanted the first 10 minutes. But we controlled him pretty well after that but we couldn't score."

"But we played hard until the final buzzer and I'm proud for the kids for that. I think we've turned the program around the past two seasons with 33 wins and should be ready to take off from there next winter."

"We've also rebuilt a strong fan base which continues to grow."

Woods 12 points moved him into a tie for the team lead with Ryan Rude at 429 in the unofficial team totals. Czar Woods ended at 283.

Czar Woods, Frost and Kane will be the only graduates this spring.

Seven of the regular ten man rotation are back with replacements moving up from a strong B Team that went 17-8 this year.

"They were three great seniors," said Brown. "They set fine examples for the younger players with their dedication and leadership and will be hard to replace."

Other factors in the contest were shown in points in the paint where Little Falls held a 42-14 bulge, points off turnovers 18-4 and fast break points 8-0.

Toughest of the three seniors to replace may be Woods at point guard with Mitch Brown or Cody Rutledge possibilities to assume that role. Carey Woods could also switch from shooting guard to take over his brother's post.

In general, however, Brown is optimistic about the year ahead.

BEMIDJI (43) Rude 2 0-0 3 4; Frost 2 0-0 2 5; Richardson 1 2-2 3 4; Czar Woods 1 2-2 1 4; Carey Woods 5 0-0 2 12; Kroening 0 0-0 0 0; Kane 2 3-4 2 7; Brown 1 0-0 2 3; Rutledge 1 0-0 3 2; Hengel 0 2-2 0 2;Declusin 0 0-0 1 0; Totals: 15 9-10 19 43

LITTLE FALLS (62) Horejsi 6 2-4 1 14; Mustonen 5 3-4 1 13; Kornbaum 9 2-4 3 20; Scott 1 0-2 1 2; Wetzel 0 2-3 1 2; Bell 3 0-0 1 7; Hanowski 0 0-0 1 0; Dorn 1 1-2 1 4; Wenzel 0 1-2 0 1'; Valentine 0 0-0 0 0; Kohler 0 0-0 2 0; Smith 1 0-2 0 2; Totals:26 11-23 12 65

Halftime score; Little Falls 35, Bemidji 25

Three point field goals; Bemidji 4 (Carey Woods 2, Frost, Brown); Little Falls 2 (Bell, Dorn)