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Bemidji High School girls basketball: Jacks draw Sartell for state opener

The Bemidji High School girls basketball team will open the Minnesota Class 3A basketball tournament Wednesday afternoon against Sartell-St. Stephen in Minneapolis.

The brackets were announced Saturday afternoon after the participating coaches ranked the teams in the tournament and a random draw of the bottom four seeds were matched with the top four seeds.

"It pretty much went as expected and the way I thought it would go," Bemidji head coach Rick Kehoe said. "I'm very happy with how things turned out, especially with the time slot we drew."

The Lumberjacks drew the No. 3 overall seed and the 4 p.m. game, the last of the four quarterfinal matchups at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.

Other quarterfinal matchups have No. 1 DeLaSalle playing New Prague at 10 a.m., No. 4 Hill-Murray playing Annandale at noon and No. 2 Benilde-St. Margaret's playing Willmar at 2 p.m.

The Bemidji-Sartell winner will play the Willmar-Benilde winner at 2 p.m. Thursday in one semifinal at Target Center. The DeLaSalle-New Prague winner plays the Hill-Murray-Annandale winner at noon in the other semifinal at Target Center. The state title game is Saturday 6 p.m. at Target Center with the third-place game at 2 p.m. at Concordia-St. Paul.

There is no consolation play and the losing teams Wendesday are eliminated from tournament play.

"Right now the way this tournament looks is that it's going to be whoever gets hot and can put back-to-back games together," Kehoe said. "Anyone can beat anyone. I think DeLaSalle drew the toughest opening game with New Prague. Those are two big teams and that game will be a battle of wills."

Bemidji defeated the St. Cloud suburb of Sartell earlier this season 62-52 in January at Sartell.

The Jacks led that game by as much as 19 before Kehoe said he slowed the game's pace down to try some different plays and formations.

"They are a really defensive team," Kehoe said. "They are a team that doesn't like to score a lot of points. They like to keep the score low and I know that any team that can beat Alexandria is a tough team."

Alexandria was one of the top rated teams in the state, but lost to Sartell 54-52 in the Section 8 championship Friday night. The Sabres finished 2-1 against Alexandria this season. Bemidji needed overtime to defeat Alexandria on Feb. 13.

Of the eight teams in the tournament, Bemidji (25-1) second fewest losses and enters state on a 20-game winning streak. DeLaSalle is 29-0, New Prague is 20-9, Hill-Murray is 23-5, Annandale is 20-7, Benilde is 27-2, Willmar is 23-4 and Sartell is 23-5.

Bemidji is making its fifth state tournament trip and first since 2001.