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Bemidji HS boys basketball: Woods' 52-point game broke Jensen's 1978 school record

Jim Jensen's 50-point performance against Woodbury in the 1978 state tournament consolation semifinals stood as the Bemidji High School single-game record for more than a generation. Tuesday night, however, Carey Woods scored 52 at Grand Forks Central to eclipse Jensen's mark and establish a new school standard.

Jensen now owns a company in Anchorage, Alaska and 33 years after the moment he still remembers the record-setting performance against Woodbury.

"It was the state tournament and I remember that we tried as hard as we could to represent Bemidji," Jensen said. "But of the record number of points, it surprised us that I had that many."

At the time Jensen's 50-point effort also established a Minnesota high school tournament standard and that record stood until 2006 when Cory Mountain of Albrook tallied 51 points in a state tournament game.

"I knew the 50 points was a state tournament record but being a school record never sunk in," Jensen said. "Honestly, I didn't know that I still had the school record but having records broken are why they keep track of them in the first place and I congratulate the young man who broke mine.

"Setting a record always seems to happen to nice people and my advice to Mr. Woods is to keep it going," Jensen added.

Jensen was officially given credit for his record point total but he would prefer if the entire 1978 team would receive the accolades.

"I was fortunate to play with state-tournament caliber teammates," Jensen said. "Having the record was a reward for everybody. The fact that we're still talking about it 33 years later makes it fun."

Jack Luoma was the head coach in 1978 and he shares Jensen's team philosophy.

"That team was unique in the fact that we had outstanding players throughout the lineup," Luoma said. "Everybody on the team was equally important and valuable."

Bemidji thumped Woodbury 98-76 that historic day and Jensen was unstoppable. The 6-7 senior post player dominated the inside and when the outcome was no longer in doubt Luoma was ready to put in the reserves.

"The press table was across from the bench and the sportwriters let us know that Jim was close to the state record," Luoma recalled. "As a coach I never thought I would leave a starter in a game like that but Jim was such a good player and had been an integral part of our program for so long that I felt he deserved a chance to hold the state and the school record.

"I just didn't think his record would last 33 years," Luoma added.

Assistant coach Phil Buhn has fond memories of Jensen and the 1978 team.

"Jim received recognition because of his size and talent that he really didn't want," Buhn said. "He was more a team player than an individual. For a big kid he was active. He could handle the ball and he could jump. Jim also appreciated that he had good players around him."

Among those players were Rob Skime, Kevin Bohlig, Mark Fairchild, Brad Goodwin and Lance Chambers. The group formed the backbone of a team that entered the state tournament 22-0 and finished the year 23-2.

"Because of the skills that Jim had, he was one of the keys that we wanted our game to go through," Skime, who was the starting shooting guard, said.

"In the game against Woodbury Jim was unstoppable. During the game I don't remember a real focus to get Jim the ball or the record but at the end we created moments for Jim to score inside. And when it was over we were very happy for Jim."

"He was our go-to guy," Chambers, a scoring forward, said. "We didn't have a clue that Jim had that many points. It was a quiet 50 that just kind of snuck up on us."

Goodwin was Bemidji's other inside threat and remembered that the Lumberjacks were not entirely inspired to play in the consolation round after their opening-game loss to St. Louis Park.

"I remember wondering how this game was going to go after losing the night before but once it started Jim was a man among boys," Goodwin said. "He was knocking everything down and it is fun to say that I was on the floor with him on that record-breaking game."

As sixth man Fairchild's job was to spell the starters and he saw extended duty against Woodbury.

"Setting a state and school record was a fitting end to Jim's career," Fairchild said. "Our job as a team was to find the open player and Jim was always open against Woodbury."

Bohlig, another guard, doesn't remember a concerted effort to feed Jensen until the record was within reach.

"I do remember Jack (Luoma) calling a time out near the end of the game and telling us that Jim was nearing a record," Bohlig said.

"But this was just a normal game. It didn't seem like the ball was always in Jim's hands or that he shot every time he touched the ball. The 50 points just happened."

"It took a team effort to set the record," Jensen said. "I've always appreciated playing with my teammates and sharing the record with them. Against Woodbury they were rooting for me more than I was.

"It was nice holding the record for so long but now it's gone and I congratulate Mr. Woods for breaking it."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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