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Bemidji HS girls hoops team wraps up regular season Thursday

When the winter began the ultimate goal of the Bemidji girls basketball team was to be better at the end of the season than it was at the beginning.

The regular season officially ends 7:15 p.m. today as the Lumberjacks entertain Grand Rapids. The game also will give the players and the coaches another opportunity to gauge the team's improvement as BHS lost 45-22 at Grand Rapids in early December.

Tuesday's 46-34 home victory over Detroit Lakes was an indicator that the Lumberjacks may be peaking at the right time. The win reversed a 49-46 loss at Detroit Lakes on Jan. 6 and was Bemidji's second consecutive victory.

BHS snapped a nine-game losing skid last Friday at Duluth Central and will take a 6-15 record into tonight's finale.

Grand Rapids is 17-8 and is likely to own the top seed in the Section 7-3A playoffs. The Thunderhawks have won their past five games and are 8-1 in their last nine. Among their recent victims is Class A power Barnum (22-3) which lost to Grand Rapids 61-51.

It is possible that Bemidji and Grand Rapids will meet again next week as the Jacks should receive the fourth seed in the section playoffs and probably will host Cloquet. BHS coach Rick Kehoe expects Cloquet to finish as the section's fifth-seeded team.

If that scenario does develop, and if the Jacks stop Cloquet, Bemidji will travel to Grand Rapids on March 4 for the section semifinal.

The other semifinal probably will send Hibbing to Hermantown. The section title game will be March 10 at a neutral site.

"I crunched the numbers and I came up with Bemidji being the fourth seed and Cloquet finishing fifth no matter what happens against Grand Rapids," Kehoe said.

"Seeding is determined on a point system based on number of points won compared with number of points available. Before Thursday's game we had 20 points in 21 games while Cloquet had 18 points in 25 games and by my calculations there is no way Cloquet can catch us regardless of what happens (tonight)," Kehoe added.

In Tuesday's win over Detroit Lakes the Lumberjacks played one of their better all-around games of the winter. Offensively Jess Yost led the way with 17 points, draining five field goals and converting seven of her eight free throw attempts.

Kellie Morehouse and Caitlin Hadrava each contributed nine points.

But it was the defense which impressed Kehoe.

"It was fun to watch as we played lock-down defense," the coach said. "We did a tremendous job on the defensive rebounds. For Detroit Lakes it was one shot and out."

The Bemidji boys cagers will conclude their road schedule tonight at Grand Rapids. The Jacks are 19-3 and were ranked ninth in the latest Class 3A poll.

Section 8-3A rival St. Cloud Apollo was rated fifth. St. Paul Johnson leads the Class 3A poll while Benilde-SM was second, DeLaSalle third and Winona fifth.

Completing the top five were Minneapolis Washburn, New Prague, Hill-Murray, Bemidji and Waconia.

A month ago the Lumberjacks edged Grand Rapids 63-58 in overtime in Bemidji and the Thunderhawks have gone 6-2 since. Their victories have come at the expense of Pequot Lakes, Hermantown (twice), Deer River, Duluth Central and Superior.

BHS is on a three-game winning streak with recent victories over Alexandria, Detroit Lakes and Willmar.

The Jacks will conclude their regular season at home next week, entertaining Thief River Falls Tuesday and Detroit Lakes March 4.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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