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Bemidji boys basketball tops tournament with victory over St. Cloud Cathedral

Prior to Saturday's opening tip against St. Cloud Cathedral Bemidji boys basketball coach Jeff Brown didn't know what to expect from his players.

Because of the extended football season the Lumberjacks missed out on a week of practice and had to postpone games because the full team wasn't assembled.

"We don't have our basketball legs yet," Brown said Saturday, "and that showed."

Despite the fatigue caused by two games in less than 24 hours, the Lumberjacks were able to overcome the Crusaders 73-62 and complete a successful weekend at the Woods and Pines Classic which saw them post a 2-0 record.

Cathedral and Grand Rapids, which defeated Park of Cottage Grove 65-20 Saturday, each went 1-1 while Park headed home with an 0-2 record at the event.

"These were our first two games of the year and things went about the way I thought they would," Brown said. "We have many kids on this team who are athletes and the goal is to try to get them to play as a unit. I'm sure we will and when we do that things we'll be fine."

Bemidji was a step behind early Saturday and Cathedral opened a 14-5 lead before Carey Woods' 3-pointer, Cody Rutledge's fast break dunk and Rutledge's 8-footer from the sideline closed the gap to 14-12.

The Lumberjacks completed their comeback with 15 seconds to play in the half when JC Cervenka drained his second 3-pointer to give Bemidji a 28-25 lead.

Mitch Brown converted a pair of free throws with three seconds to play and the Lumberjacks owned a 30-25 advantage at the break.

Cervenka's 3-pointer and Woods' bucket from the corner upped the cushion to 35-25 early in the second half.

After that, the Lumberjacks would never be challenged again.

"Defensively we did a much better job of rotating and helping each other in the second half," the coach said. "As the game continued we improved our scoring balance."

Woods finished with 25 points and had 11 of Bemidji's 30 first-half points. Rutledge contributed 17, including 10 in the second stanza.

Cervenka added 12 and Connor Sullivan 11.

Bemidji will take a 2-0 record into Tuesday's game at Brainerd. On Friday the Jacks will be at Big Lake and Saturday they head to St. Michael-Albertville.

St. Cloud Cathedral (62): Schmit 5, 1-2, 15; Bjorklund 3, 5-7, 11; Bestgen 1, 0-0, 2; Burt 9, 6-8, 27; Vierzba 0, 1-2, 1; Voss 2, 0-3, 4; Carnahan 0, 2-2, 2. Totals: 20, 15-24, 62

Bemidji (73): Rainey 0, 0-0, 0; Rutledge 6, 5-6, 17; Brown 2, 2-2, 6; Woods 9, 4-4, 25; Seado 0, 0-0, 0; Cervenka 4, 2-2, 12; Sullivan 5, 1-1,11; Declusin 0, 0-0, 0; Misco 1, 0-0, 2. Totals: 27, 14-15, 73

Fouls: Cathedral 18, Bemidji 20.

3-point FG: Cathedral 7, Bemidji 5

Halftime: Bemidji 30, Cathedral 25

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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