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Jacks' speed too much for Thief River in boys basketball

Bemidji's Cory Rutledge elevates for a basket against Thief River Falls' Jaylon Gunderson during the first half of Tuesday night's game. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Bemidji boys basketball coach Jeff Brown has seen opponents employ a variety of defenses in an attempt to counter the Lumberjacks speed and try to control their offensive weapons.

Tuesday in Bemidji, however, Thief River Falls tried something new when it implemented a three-man zone triangle and assigned defenders to chase the Lumberjacks guards wherever they went.

"I've never seen that defense thrown against us," said BHS coach Jeff Brown.

Brown and the Lumberjacks probably won't see any other teams employ that tactic as the Jacks raced around and through the Prowlers on way to a 74-53 victory. By effectively using screens and working the ball around the defense Bemidji was able to free the guards. Carey Woods was the main beneficiary of the fast-paced offense as the senior finished with 39 points.

Cody Rutledge added 14, most of them coming on power drives which either resulted in a basket or some free throws.

Thief River Falls enjoyed a height advantage and the visitors used that tool to stay within 19-17 midway through the first half.

But Bemidji's quickness, especially while the Jacks were clamping down with the press, pestered the Prowlers all night and caused numerous turnovers.

BHS turned those miscues into scoring opportunities and an 11-0 spurt, climaxed by Woods' fast break bucket and free throw, provided a 31-17 lead with 5:13 to play in the half.

By intermission the Lumberjacks stretched the advantage to 38-22.

"I thought we played very well defensively," Brown said. "During the first half we held (Jay) Gunderson to only four points and that was a great accomplishment."

Gunderson is a 6-7 senior post player and had the potential to dominate the paint. The Lumberjacks, however, used their strength and quickenss to limit Gunderson's contributions.

Woods opened the second half with a 3-pointer from the left wing and added four more within the first five minutes of the stanza. His long-range shooting combined with Bemidji's ball hawking to forge an insurmountable 54-27 lead with 11:55 to play

"We did a nice job on the press and Cody (Rutledge) was great at the front end of it," Brown said. "Thief River Falls is a good team but we played well."

Bemidji improved to 7-4 and will visit St. Cloud Apollo on Thursday. Thief River Falls fell to 8-3.

Thief River Falls (53)

Hjelseth 1, 1-1, 3; Leier 1, 5-7, 7; Williams 2, 3-5, 7; Gunderson 6, 4-4, 16; Sorvig 0, 0-0, 0; Mattison 0, 0-0, 0; Hrudy 5, 4-7, 14; Schneider 2, 0-0, 4; Onkka 0, 2-2, 2. Totals: 17, 19-26, 53

Bemidji (74)

Mills 0, 0-0, 0; Bellew 0, 0-0, 0; Rainey 2, 0-0, 4; Rutledge 4, 6-12, 14; Brown 0, 0-1, 0; Supalla 0, 0-0, 0; Woods 14, 3-3, 39; Cervenka 3, 0-0, 7; Sullivan 1, 2-2, 4; Declusin 3, 0-0, 6; Misco 0, 0-0, 0. Totals: 18, 11-18, 74

3-point FG: Thief River Falls 0, Bemidji 9 (Woods 8, Cervenka 1)

Fouls: Thief River Falls 13, Bemidji 23

Halftime: Bemidji 38, Thief River Falls 22

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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