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Bemidji boys basketball pulls away to win third straight game

Bemidji's Roman Misco gets his shot blocked by Cloquet's Adam Laine during Thursday night's game. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

After struggling in the opening 18 minutes the Bemidji boys basketball team regrouped during intermission, dominated the second half and cruised to a 74-57 home victory Thursday over Cloquet.

Thursday's triumph extended the Lumberjacks winning streak to three games and upped the overall record to 10-6. Cloquet dropped to 6-10.

"In the first half we were playing too much one-on-one, playing too much as individuals," said BHS coach Jeff Brown. "During the break we talked about how we needed to find a way to win as a team and in the second half we made the adjustments."

Bemidji trailed 30-26 at intermission but five minutes into the second half the Jacks had tied the game 35-35. The run started with Cody Rutledge's steal and dunk and featured JC Cervenka's 3-pointer from the right wing, his fast-break hoop and Rutledge's drive from the baseline.

Mitch Brown gave BHS a 37-35 lead with a 15-footer and a six-point possession which included another Cervenka 3-pointer, a Cloquet foul and Brown's trey from the left wing, vaulted the Lumberjacks to a 43-35 advantage. And Bemidji never looked back.

Brown used 11 players and most of them played significant minutes. Rutledge paced the offense with 25 points, while Cervenka had 18 and Brown 12.

Rutledge also wowed the crowd with four dunks, all coming off steals and capping breakaways.

"Our focus is to have team balance and our goal every game is to get nine, 10 or 11 players in the rotation," Brown said. 'We need that many kids giving us minutes so we can rest players. And lately we've been able to do that."

Bemidji hopes to extend its winning streak Saturday when it hosts Buffalo at 3 p.m.

"This was a nice win for us but Saturday's game is huge," the coach said. "It's a section game against a very good opponent and we'll have to play consistent basketball if we want to win."

Cloquet (57)

Brenner 0, 0-0, 0; Johnson 5, 1-1, 12; Peterson 4, 2-4, 10; Takkunen 0, 0-0, 0; Weets 2, 4-7, 9; Swanson 2, 0-1, 5; Moe 2, 2-2, 6; Laine 7, 1-1, 15. Totals: 22, 10-16, 57

Bemidji (74)

Rainey 0, 1-2, 1; Rutledge 9, 5-6, 25; Brown 5, 1-2, 12; Supalla 2, 0-0, 5; Seado 3, 0-0, 8; Cervenka 7, 0-0, 18; Hirt 0, 2-2, 2; Sherk 0, 0-0, 0; Sullivan 0, 0-0, 0; Declusin 1, 1-2, 3; Misco 0, 0-0, 0. Totals: 27, 10-14, 74

3-point FG: Cloquet 3, Bemidji 10 (Rutledge 2, Brown 1, Supalla 1, Seado 2, Cervenka 4)

Fouls: Cloquet 16, Bemidji 20

Halftime: Cloquet 30, Bemidji 26

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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