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BOYS BASKETBALL: Jacks leave no doubt in opener against Int’l Falls

Bemidji High School junior Kade Peterson (3) scores in the first half against International Falls on Friday at BHS. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
Bemidji High School senior Tanner Hatfield (1) passes the ball in the first half against International Falls on Friday at BHS. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- A combination of quick starts in each half and solid defense was the recipe the Bemidji boys basketball team used to claim an 83-35 win over International Falls on Friday at Bemidji High School.

“It was a good first night,” BHS head coach Travis Peterson said. “I thought there was definitely things that we can work on, but it was nice to start the season at home in front of our crowd and get some of those early-season jitters out.”

Field goals from Dominic Needham (2), Spencer Konecne (2) and Ryan Bieberdorf, as well as a three-point play from Kade Peterson gave the Jacks the game’s first 13 points, and the Broncos (0-1) were never able to cut the difference back down to single digits.

The second half started with a 17-5 run in Bemidji’s favor, and I-Falls managed just nine points over the final 18 minutes.

“In Minnesota high school basketball, it’s not that long of a game, 18-minute halves,” Peterson said. “You definitely want to jump out and get the lead if you can early. And same in the second half, so that down the stretch, you’re in control and you don’t have to foul and very likely they do. So it’s definitely critical to start fast and they did that tonight.”

After the opening six minutes of the game, the Broncos used stretches of poor Bemidji shooting to come within 10 points on two different occasions, but the Jacks heated up down the stretch and went into the locker room with a 49-26 lead.

“We missed a lot of shots,” said Peterson. “A lot of them were close shots near the basket, and we were shooting long on our threes. But we kept talking about, ‘keep attacking, keep attacking,’ and we ended up getting to the rim a lot and got fouled a lot. There’s things we can improve on for sure, but it’s a nice way to start the season.”

When Bemidji pushed the game into running time and had full control, Peterson used the opportunity to get players experience on the varsity floor. 11 different players found their way on the scoresheet.

“I was really happy to get a lot of guys in the game and just get them acclimated to the varsity level,” Peterson said. “We have a lot of guys that haven’t played at the varsity level. They’ve done a really nice job at the junior varsity level or ninth grade level, and this year is their first opportunity so it was nice to get their feet wet tonight.”

Bieberdorf led the Lumberjacks with 19 points and five rebounds. Peterson added 15 points and seven steals, Needham had 12 points and seven rebounds and Konecne chipped in 12 points, as well.

The lone Broncos double-digit scorer was Armando Berrios with 12.

Bemidji has a full week before they take on Sauk Rapids-Rice next Friday, Dec. 8, and the practice time will be valuable as they don’t expect the game to come as easily as the first.

“Sauk Rapids particularly is going to be a contender in our section,” Peterson said. “They’ve got probably the best post player in our section, Cody Landwehr. Last year they beat us on our home court by a few, so it’s going to be a dogfight on their court. We’re going to have to play well, and we’re going to have to contain him.”

Tipoff for the SRR tilt is set for 7:30 p.m. at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School.

Bemidji 83, International Falls 35

BHS 49 34 -- 83

IF 26 9 -- 35

Bemidji Scoring -- Bieberdorf 19, K Peterson 15, Konecne 12, Needham 12, Hatfield 6, Jensen 6, Lindsey 4, Wilson 3, B. Hess 2, S. Hess 2, Hubbard 2.

Int’l Falls Scoring -- Barrios 12, Bratten 7, Olson 5, Hoppe 4, Hallin 3, Buller 2, Wilson 2.