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This week at BHS: Bemidji-Spuds boys basketball game one for the ages

Late in the second half of Saturday's memorable boys basketball battle against Moorhead, Bemidji High School coach Jeff Brown turned to his players on the bench.

During the past two minutes the lead had changed hands five times, both teams were giving their all and the crowd was fully involved in the proceedings.

The tension was thick and the gym was buzzing but as Brown turned to address his bench he was wearing a smile. And, instead of pointing out a flaw in Moorhead's defense or explaining a way to crack the press, the coach had a simple statement for his troops.

"Isn't this fun?" he said.

When the smoke cleared Moorhead outlasted the Lumberjacks 84-78. As the fans left the high school, however, even the home-town faithful had to agree with Brown's assessment.

"It would have been nice to win the game but first and foremost, the kids really enjoyed everything about the evening," Brown said. "Our kids don't always get to experience something like this. The crowd was awesome. The atmosphere was awesome. It was fun for everyone and the kids appreciated the backing they received. I hope the fans continue to come and support us like this."

It was obvious to all who packed the BHS gym that the players on both sides of the bench were talented, hungry for the win and not afraid to go the extra mile to try and earn the victory. In the end Moorhead's size provided the winning edge but the Lumberjacks can take pride in their effort.

"It was a great show," Brown said. "Both teams laid it on the line. Moorhead was able to handle the crowd and do what it needed to do to win a game in a hostile environment.

"From the bench you get a different perspective on the game and the crowd," the coach continued. "Saturday night we could feel the electricity of the crowd during the pre-game and that electricity carried into the game. We really want the crowd to know how much we appreciated their enthusiasm."

The teams will stage a rematch Feb. 3 in Moorhead.

Tonight Bemidji High will face another stern test at Thief River Falls which is 7-3. The Prowlers' front line goes 6-7, 6-5 and 6-5 and should give the Lumberjacks another down-to-the-wire battle.

"Thief River Falls is a very good team," Brown said. "They play a very aggressive man-to-man defense and every year the games between Bemidji and Thief River are battles. We will have to be sharp to be successful."

The Lumberjacks will be shorthanded tonight as starting forward Cody Rutledge will be sidelined a few weeks with a broken foot and reserve guard Harley Kroening will miss the game with a pulled groin muscle.

Ryan Rude also is battling illness and may or not be available.

"We could be without three of our top six players," Brown said. "They will be missed but we will work with what we have. This is a great opportunity for everyone else and our bench has been solid all year.

"It's early in the year and our goal has always been to get ready for the section meet. Using our bench tonight is another way to do that."

Tonight's game is the lone action for the Jacks this week. Next Tuesday they travel to Little Falls and the next home appearance will be Jan. 22 against Duluth Central.

Boys hockey team enjoys homestand

The boys hockey schedule began with six consecutive road games but beginning tonight the Lumberjacks will experience the positives of that initial road swing as they play five straight games at home.

The homestand begins 7:30 p.m. today when Crookston visits Nymore Arena. Thursday sees the Jacks entertaining East Grand Forks at The Sanford Center, and Saturday they will host Roseau at the Community Arena.

BHS begins the week 11-1-1 and is coming off Saturday's 9-1 demolition of River Lakes.

Girls hockey team visits Moorhead

The Lumberjacks will take a 5-10-1 record to Moorhead tonight and Saturday they will host Brainerd at Nymore Arena.

The Spuds are 5-8-1 and among their victories is a 3-1 win over Bemidji at The Sanford Center a month ago.

Brainerd begins the week 9-2-2. Among the ties is a 4-4 stalemate with the Lumberjacks on Dec. 18.

Girls basketball team hosts Cloquet

Bemidji (3-6) will try to rebound from Thursday's 49-46 setback at Detroit Lakes when it entertains Cloquet 7:30 p.m. today. Thursday the Jacks will head to Duluth East. Cloquet is 4-7 while East is 6-4.

Jess Yost leads the Lumberjacks with 143 points and a 15.9 points per game average. Greta Steever is averaging 11.75 points and Summer Monsrud is scoring at a 5.11 clip.

Yost also leads the squad in rebounds (116) and steals (32) while Cheyenne Woods is the team leader in assists (33).

Skiers travel to Fergus Falls

The Nordic skiers will be at Fergus Falls today for their lone action of the week. The Lumberjacks are coming off Saturday's Mesabi East meet at Giants Ridge which attracted 1,307 skiers.

BHS was fourth in the boys varsity standings with 482 points and 39th in the girls varsity competition with 374.

Trek North also competed and was 52nd in the girls race with 270 points and 70th in the boys race with 75 points.

Wrestlers, swim team at home

The wrestling team enjoys the home spotlight this week as it hosts Hibbing Thursday and stages the annual Rick Lee Invitational Saturday.

The swimmers also will entertain their peers in the annual Bemidji Invitational 5 p.m. Friday.

Gymnasts head to Alex, Moorhead

The gym team will make back-to-back long road trips this weekend as it participates in Friday's Alexandria Quadrangular and Saturday's Moorhead Invitational.

Last Saturday the gymnasts scored 125.75 and were second at the Park Rapids Invitational.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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