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Bemidji HS Friday Preview: Boys basketball, wrestling teams begin seasons

A pair of Bemidji winter sports teams begin their seasons today when the wrestlers host Deer River at 7:30 p.m. and the boys basketball squad heads to East Grand Forks for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Joining the wrestlers in the home spotlight today will be the BHS girls hockey team which entertains North St. Paul at Nymore. The boys basketball squad will also be in action as it heads to Monticello for a 7 p.m. contest.

A year ago the wrestlers finished 6-18 and coach Rance Bahr, who begins his second season at the helm, believes the Lumberjacks have the capability of doubling that victory total.

"I know that 12 wins is a big jump from 6-18 but our kids have put in the time and the work during the offseason and are improved," Bahr said.

In addition to hosting Deer River the wrestlers are welcoming their alumni, boosters and fans with free admission to the meet and a social hour following the action.

Bahr and his coaches are working with 25 wrestlers and expect to be able to fill all of the varsity positions and the bulk of the junior varsity spots.

BHS returns to action Thursday at the Willmar Triangular and the next home appearance will be Dec. 16 against Grand Rapids.

With the four-game road trip a thing of the past the girls hockey team is looking forward to a five-game homestand which begins about 7 p.m. today against North St. Paul at Nymore. Saturday the Jacks will return to the Nymore rink to entertain Rocori at 1 p.m.

The 14-U team will open tonight's action against the North St. Paul JV at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity game will follow.

BHS is still seeking its initial victory of the winter having lost five games to begin the year. The latest setback was 6-0 Tuesday at Warroad which is rated No. 1 in the state Class A poll.

"The kids put in another nice effort but we couldn't establish much offense," said Lumberjacks coach Matt Menne.

Bemidji goalie Laura Thompson had an outstanding game with 28 saves, including 13 in the first period and 12 in the second. Her teammates, however, managed only 11 shots on the Warroad net.

Thompson missed Thursday's practice because of illness and Bemidji's other goalie, Emily Denzer, has an Achilles tendon injury and will not be available this weekend.

"It's tough trying to run a practice without any goalies," Menne said. "But that's what we are up against this week."

The coach has experimented with his lineup in an effort to generate more offense and that trend will probably continue this weekend.

"We're trying to beef up our scoring a bit," Menne said. "We need to put the puck in the net and I think we'll do more of that against North St. Paul and Rocori."

The boys basketball team travels to East Grand Forks tonight for the start of what is hoped will be a very successful campaign.

Fans should see a fast-paced brand of basketball which is designed to create turnovers and transform those opportunities into points.

"If we can control the tempo of the game we should be okay," said BHS coach Jeff Brown.

The coach expects to continually go to the bench because each varsity player has something to offer and the aggressive brand of play will warrant frequent breaks.

"Everybody is interchangeable," Brown said. "That is a system we put in one and a half years ago and it's been productive."

The home openers will be Dec. 10-11 when the Lumberjacks stage the Lakes and Woods Classic.

After opening the season Thursday at East Grand Forks the boys hockey team heads south tonight when it travels to Monticello.

The Jacks will also play at Sartell, Moorhead, Apollo and Warroad before staging their home opener Dec. 16 against Thief River Falls at the BREC.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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