BOYS BASKETBALL: Whiting wows in reaching 1,000 (w/ VIDEO)
BEMIDJI -- Once he reached 999 career points Thursday night, suspense hung in the air whenever Linaes Whiting touched the basketball. But the cheering didn’t end as soon as he hit the 1,000-point milestone early in the second half.
Whiting was just getting started.
Behind 16 second-half points from the senior guard, the Bemidji High School boys basketball team outran Duluth East to a 77-58 win at the BHS Gymnasium.
“It’s nice to see him get that milestone,” Lumberjacks head coach Travis Peterson said. “I’ve known Linaes since he was in third grade, and he’s always been a gamer. He’s a winner.
“It’s pretty rewarding, and it’s rewarding to see it happen for our team. He didn’t do it by himself; these guys get him the ball. But he definitely earned it. That was a proud moment for him, his family, for the team, and me, personally.”
Whiting’s breakthrough basket came early in the second half, when he attacked the defense from the top of the key and banked in a layup from the block.
“I was in the moment,” Whiting said. “I saw an opening. They were denying the wing, so there were some big gaps open. I took a power dribble and had an open shot.”
It came after a back-and-forth first half where the Greyhounds (4-17) kept up despite a 7-0 start for Bemidji (13-6).
Duluth East took its first lead at 16-15 on an Oliver Hasler layup, eventually working up to a five-point edge at 30-25 late in the half. But Whiting then sunk a three -- career point No. 999 -- before Colten Jensen knotted it up inside for a 30-30 halftime deadlock.
Whiting’s first score of the second half put him past 1,000, and it sparked a 7-0 run that gave the Jacks a 37-33 advantage. The Greyhounds continued to sneak back into small leads, ultimately taking a 52-48 edge, but then Whiting led the deciding comeback for BHS.
With a old-fashioned three-point play and then a 3-pointer from behind the arc, Whiting scored the first six of an ensuing 11-0 Bemidji run. Jacob Beberg tacked on a layup before another Whiting three, putting the Lumberjacks ahead 59-52.
“That’s the Linaes that we know,” Peterson said. “It’s really exciting to see him really making strides at the end of the year and becoming, really, one of the top players in our section… He played really well tonight, and we need that from Linaes coming down the stretch.”
Whiting didn’t score for the rest of the night, but he didn’t need to. Spencer Konecne, Ryan Bieberdorf and Jace Peterson combined for the game’s final 11 points, ending the 77-58 win with an exclamation point.
“We need to play fast the entire 36 minutes, and it’s going to pay off in the end,” coach Peterson said. “If we let off the gas, we allow them to rest and regroup. So it’s really important for us to play fast, and it paid off.”
Whiting’s tally ended with a game-high 22 points, as well as another six assists.
“I’ll score if I’m open, but I love getting the whole team involved,” Whiting said. “That’s when we start clicking I think -- when I penetrate and get those assists. That’s kind of my role on this team, being an offensive producer.”
Jace Peterson added another 19 points and seven assists, while Konecne racked up 13 points and four blocks.
“It was a fun game. It’s fun to (reach 1,000 points) in front of your fans,” Whiting said. “There’s a lot of hard work I put into it, and a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches… I’ve got a lot of great teammates on this team and in past years.”
The Lumberjacks will return to the hardwood at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, for a matchup with Thief River Falls at the BHS Gymnasium.
Bemidji 77, Duluth East 58
DE 30 28 -- 58
BHS 30 47 -- 77
Duluth East scorers: Hendrickson 16, Hasler 15, Winesett 15, Wapola 5, Buffalo 3, Johnson 3, Rock 1.
Bemidji scorers: Whiting 22, J. Peterson 19, Konecne 13, K. Peterson 8, Bieberdorf 7, Beberg 5, Jensen 2, Hubbard 1.