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BOYS BASKETBALL: Battle of the Jacks goes to Bemidji

Bemidji High School junior Spencer Konecne (50) fights to score in the first half against Cloquet Saturday at BHS. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
Bemidji High School senior Jace Peterson (0) looks for a pass in the first half against Cloquet on Saturday at BHS. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School boys basketball team led nearly wire-to-wire in a 71-36 victory Saturday afternoon, dominating Cloquet in a battle of the Lumberjacks at the BHS Gymnasium.

The hometown Lumberjacks (5-3) won the opening tip, scored the opening basket and didn’t look back. After Cloquet (3-3) tied the game at 2-2 with its first field goal, Ryan Bieberdorf splashed a corner trey and Bemidji retained the lead the rest of the way in the final game of the Bemidji Holiday Invitational.

The victory is the third straight for BHS following its 84-69 win over Princeton Friday to start the holiday tournament, and Tuesday’s 67-49 win over section foe Detroit Lakes.

“It’s a great way to end the calendar year and go into break with some momentum,” BHS head coach Travis Peterson said. “I’m really pleased with the way the boys played effort-wise. We lacked a little focus and effort in a few of our games early on. But the last four games we’ve had consistent effort and focus from start to finish.”

“We played fast like we should,” Bieberdorf added. “It’s good to end the year like that and (we’re) hoping to keep the momentum going into the next year.”

Bemidji High School sophomore Ben Hess (4) scores against Cloquet on Saturday at BHS. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

After holding a Princeton team to nearly 20 points below its scoring average Friday, Bemidji held Cloquet to its lowest output of the season in another strong defensive showing Saturday.

“We stepped up really big this weekend defensively,” Bieberdorf said. “We held Princeton, who’s been averaging like 88 points a game, and held them to 69. These guys have been pretty good too and we held them to 36. It was a really good defensive tournament for us.”

Bemidji built up to a 14-point, 29-15 halftime lead, its largest of the game at that point. Linaes Whiting dropped a pair of successive shots from 3-point land early in the half to pace BHS with eight points at the break.

The Section 8 Lumberjacks extended their lead to more than 20 points around the midpoint in the second half.

BHS junior Kade Peterson took a hard hit going for a loose ball out of bounds, but returned to the game in time to dish a no-look pass to Colten Jensen in the lane for a 48-25 lead. Jensen led all scorers with 20 points, all of them coming in the second half.

It was also Jensen who put the final touches on the 35-point win, giving Bemidji its largest lead with his basket in the final minutes.

Following Jensen, Bieberdorf tallied 12 points and four rebounds while Spencer Konecne scored seven points with seven rebounds and three blocks. Leading BHS with five assists was Jace Peterson, who also recorded four rebounds and three steals.

Bieberdorf and Konecne were named All-Tournament selections for their performances on the weekend. Bieberdorf came within a rebound of a double-double Friday (17 points, nine rebounds) and Konecne scored 18 in the first game.

Other All-Tournament selections included Tyler Moose and Bryce Turnbull of Cloquet, Nathan Mueller and Adam Williams of Princeton and Ean Olson and Zach Praska of Thief River Falls. Princeton defeated Thief River Falls 66-54 in the first game Saturday.

Bemidji will have a couple weeks off over the holidays before making its longest trek of the season Jan. 5 to play St. Paul Johnson. After hosting their holiday tournament this weekend, the Lumberjacks will enjoy the time off before resuming play in 2018.

“We really like to give the kids time off over the holidays to spend with their families because we do travel so far for our games and it can get to be tiring,” Peterson said. “So we like to give them some time off if they need to go visit family elsewhere. Now’s the time to do it.”

Bemidji 71, Cloquet 36

CLO 15 21 -- 36

BHS 29 42 -- 71

Bemidji scorers -- Jensen 20, Bieberdorf 12, Whiting 10, K. Peterson 8, Konecne 7, Hubbard 4, Snell 4, Wilson 4, Milz 2, B. Hess 1.

Cloquet scorers -- Johnson 8, Leuzzo 8, Turnbull 7, Wehr 6, Moose 5, Fonoti 2.

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

(218) 333-9787
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