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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Bemidji plays well but runs out of steam against Grand Rapids

Bemidji’s Jess Yost, center, goes for a rebound against Grand Rapids’ Taylor Kane (33) and Kaitlyn Guertin during Thursday night’s action at BHS. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
During Thursday night’s high school basketball game, Bemidji’s Dani Gronhovd drove the baseline for an impressive under-the-bucket hook shot against Grand Rapids. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI – After Monday’s disappointing 62-49 home loss to St. Cloud Apollo, Bemidji girls basketball coach Rick Kehoe challenged his team to end the season on a positive note.

Even though the Lumberjacks lost 69-63 to Grand Rapids Thursday at the high school gym, the team responded. The extra effort was on full display and, even though the seniors lost their final home game, they can look back on the performance with fond memories.

Thursday’s loss gave BHS a final record of 8-17. The likely Section 8-4A playoff scenario sees Bemidji traveling to Rogers for Tuesday’s section quarterfinals.

The Jacks will be distinct underdogs but if they play like they did against Grand Rapids anything is possible.

“I told the girls after the game that they gutted it out. At no point did they roll over,” Kehoe said. “The effort was always there but at the end we were just wore down from sickness and from being tired.”

Grand Rapids owned a 17-6 record prior to Thursday’s contest and will be the second seed in Section 7-3A. Earlier this winter the Thunderhawks edged Bemidji 55-50 in Grand Rapids and Thursday night the Jacks came close to pulling off the upset.

The first half was played on even terms. The teams exchanged the lead nine times and it was only fitting that the stanza ended in a 29-29 stalemate.

Bemidji’s first-half attack was fueled by seniors Jess Yost and Dani Gronhovd as Yost scored nine and Gronhovd eight.

Yost also was saddled with two early fouls and, although she escaped the third infraction during the half, Bemidji’s inside force did have to back away on occasion.

The second stanza followed a similar script as the teams continued to strike and counterstrike.

Early in the period Yost ripped the ball from Grand Rapids’ Megan Allen and went coast-to-coast on the successful fast break. Yost also converted the free throw and the three points gave the home team a 36-35 lead.

Grand Rapids countered with a 16-5 run to forge a 51-41 advantage. BHS answered with 10 straight points to tie the game at 51-51.

That flurry was started by a pair of inside buckets by Yost and was capped by consecutive 3-pointers courtesy of Gronhovd and Kelsey Olson.

The Thunderhawks regained their composure, however, and opened a 59-52 lead with 3:48 to play. Bemidji tried to keep up with the visitors the rest of the way but Grand Rapids converted eight of 10 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

“We had moments when we looked very good and they came when we were playing at full speed,” Kehoe said. “But we struggle when we aren’t playing at full speed and there were times Thursday when we couldn’t keep that pace.”

Yost ended her home career with a bang as she scored 25 points. Gronhovd added 15 and Greta Steever nine.

Grand Rapids (69): Baker 0, 0-0, 0; K.Kane 7, 5-8, 21; Gibbons 1, 0-0,2; Olson 0, 2-2, 2; Allen 4, 3-4, 11; T.Kane 8, 6-8, 23; Anderson 4, 2-3, 10. Totals: 24, 18-25, 69

Bemidji (63): Lusby 2, -0, 4; Myhra 2, 0-0, 5; Greendahl 0, 0-0, 0; Olson 2, 1-2, 6; Yost 10, 4-4, 24; Gronhovd 5, 4-4, 15; Palmer 0, 0-0, 0; Steever 4, 1-2, 9. Totals: 25, 10-17, 63

3-point FG: Grand Rapids 3, Bemidji 3 (Myhra 1, Olson 1, Gronhovd 1)

Fouls: Grand Rapids 16, Bemidji 18

Halftime: Bemidji 29, Grand Rapids 29