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Pat Miller: This week at Bemidji High School - winter seasons are in full swing

The winter sports seasons at Bemidji High School are in full swing and this week the wrestling, girls basketball and gymnastics squads will begin their campaigns. Already with games under their belts are girls hockey (2-4-2), boys basketball (0-4) and boys hockey (1-1).

The boys and girls Nordic skiers will wait until the Montebello Relays at the Montebello Ski Trails on Dec. 14 to begin their competitive schedules while the boys swimmers and divers will open Dec. 10 at the Thief River Falls relays.

Weather permitting, a trio of BHS teams will be in action today and headlining the group is the boys basketball team which will enjoy the home court advantage against International Falls. That game will begin around 7:30 p.m.

Over the weekend Bemidji hosted its annual Lumberjacks Classic and the Jacks went 0-2, falling 66-58 to St. Cloud Cathedral and 90-37 to East Grand Forks. BHS played well in Friday’s opener but EGF dominated the Lumberjacks on Saturday, especially in the second half when Bemidji scored only 16 points.

BHS also will be home on Saturday when it entertains Buffalo at 1:30 p.m. Following that contest the Jacks will hit the road for games at Rogers (Dec. 13), Monticello (Dec. 14) and Brainerd (Dec. 17).

The girls basketball team will make its debut 7:15 p.m. today at Detroit Lakes. The Lumberjacks will stage their home opener Thursday against Grand Rapids.

This year’s squad lacks the big girl who can dominate the paint but it does possess smaller players who are quick and who should be able to push the ball down the floor.

“If we take more than eight seconds to shoot, we’ll be trying to kill the clock,” said BHS coach Rick Kehoe. “Our philosophy will be to bring the ball down and put the ball up.”

That brand of basketball will be fun for the players and the fans but the absence of an inside threat, both offensively and defensively, is something the Jacks will have to address.

“Most of the teams we will face will have at least one big girl and if they only have one we will be fine,” Kehoe said. “But if they have two on the court at the same time we will be challenged.”

The coach expects his team to be in the thick of most games and knows that his players will always give a full effort.

“I like being with this group of kids and it’s is shaping up to be a fun year,” Kehoe said. “The effort is always going to be there with this group and I’ll be able to live with whatever happens.”

Wrestling coach Rance Bahr was welcomed by athletes who also appear to be willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.

“This group has great passion and a great attitude,” Bahr said of the 37 kids who were on hand for the early practice sessions. “This is a unique group. They have character and are very positive in the wrestling room and in the classroom and that is something you don’t have very year.”

Bahr believes that the talent and the attitude of his wrestlers could lead the Jacks to a section title.

“That will be our team goal,” the coach said.

The Jacks will debut Thursday at a triangular hosted by Thief River Falls. On Saturday they will head to the Fosston Invitational. The home debut will be Dec. 12 against Hibbing.

The road to section success became rockier this winter for the gymnasts as Bemidji has been elevated to the Class 2A ranks and now will have to challenge the state’s largest schools during the postseason.

“Last year we were in Class A and in the past few years we were able to move up in the section standings,” Bemidji coach Don Papreck said. “But this year, because we’ve been put in Class 2A, it’s going to be difficult for us to do that again.”

BHS will open its season Saturday at Park Rapids. The initial home appearance will be Dec. 10 against Detroit Lakes.

The girls hockey team, which is coming off a 0-1-1 weekend performance in St. Cloud, visits Detroit Lakes today and Grand Rapids Thursday. The next home game will be Dec. 10 against Crookston.

On Friday the Lumberjacks dropped a 3-1 decision to Sartell but on Saturday they battled St. Cloud to a 2-2 draw. Sylvia Grimm scored Friday’s goal while Jacie Lalli and Megan Dondelinger connected against St. Cloud.

Also competing this week is the boys hockey team which will entertain rival Moorhead 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Community Arena.

BHS has been off since Nov. 26 when it lost 4-3 in overtime at Grand Rapids.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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