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Girls basketball: St. Michael-Albertville too much for Bemidji

Lumberjacks senior Cheyenne Woods raced ahead of St. Michael-Albertville’s Lizzy Heil on this fast break bucket during Friday’s game. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Bemidji’s Jillian Ricci finds herself hemmed into a corner by St. Michael-Albertville’s Krista Slavin during Friday’s game. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 2 / 2

BEMIDJI — It became apparent early that the Bemidji girls basketball team was not going to be able to stay with St. Michael-Albertville Friday night at the BHS gym. Kelsey Olson’s 18-footer tied the game at 2-2 but before the Lumberjacks scored again, the visitors struck for 16 consecutive points.

By intermission SMA enjoyed a 35-10 advantage and the Knights continued their dominance in the second half, eventually winning 60-24.

In the early going Bemidji coach Rick Kehoe did what he could to try and slow the Knights. He used his first timeout less than two minutes into the game and 90 seconds later he burned his second. After a series of BHS turnovers midway through the half, Kehoe was forced to call his third.

“A team only gets five timeouts in a game but there is no point in saving them,” Kehoe said. “Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and use them early.

“The first timeout was to settle the players down,” the coach said. “We were down 8-2 and we needed a break.”

St. Michael owned a 14-2 lead and its defense had just turned a Jacks turnover into a fast-break basket when Kehoe used his second play stoppage.

“I called that one so we could go over our offense,” he said.

“St. Michael’s defense was giving us trouble and I wanted to go over our plan.”

Leading 18-4 a few minutes later the visitors scored their next four baskets on the fast break, three of them coming off Bemidji turnovers and the fourth coming off a missed shot. And that series did not sit well with the coach.

“I called the third timeout to chew a little butt,” Kehoe said. “Part of the reason for St. Michael’s fast breaks was that we didn’t recognize what they were doing. But another part was that we were jogging down the floor. St. Michael is a better team than we are right now and I don’t mind losing to a better team. But getting outworked and outhustled is not acceptable and those are areas that we can work on.”

The best player on the court Friday was St. Michael’s Sydney Tracy. The sophomore controlled play on both ends of the floor and finished with 20 points. She scored 16 in the first half when the points were important. During the anticlimactic second half Tracy connected from the paint during the first minute, added a pair of free throws a few minutes later and spent much of the rest of the stanza on the sidelines.

“St. Michael flat-out is a very good team,” Kehoe said. “We don’t see any teams like this up north.

“But this is the type of team we want to become by section tournament time and this is the style of basketball that we want to play. Friday’s game was a good lesson for us. It also was a wake-up call. We need to improve and play like St. Michael does.”

Cheyenne Woods was Bemidji’s only offensive threat Friday as the senior hit five buckets and finished with 13 points. Kelsey Olson added five points but the rest of the team combined for only six more.

St. Michael’s win was its second in three starts. Earlier this season the Knights blistered Brainerd 75-21 and lost 72-51 to Fergus Falls.

Bemidji dipped to 2-2. On Tuesday the Jacks will try to go over the .500 mark when they host Moorhead at 7:30 p.m.

St. Michael-Albertville (60): Zezza 2, 0-0 4; Brendefur 5, 0-0, 11; Johnson 2, 2-2, 6; Hiel 0, 0-0, 0; Rederer 1, 0-0, 2; Greer 1, 0-0, 2; Slavin 2, 1-2, 7; Hansen 2, 0-0, 4; Walker 1, 0-0, 2; Tracy 9, 2-2, 20; Burns 1, 0-4, 2. Totals: 26, 5-10, 13, 60

Bemidji (24): Ricci 0, 0-0, 0; Leif 0, 0-0, 0; Chadwick 0, 1-4, 1; Greendahl 0, 0-0, 0; Olson 2, 0-0, 5; Larose 1, 0-0, 3; Woods 5, 3-4, 13; Sagedahl 0, 0-0, 0; Palmer 0, 0-2, 0; Falldorf 0, 0-0, 0; Hinrichs 0, 0-0, 0; Colligan 0, 2-2, 2. Totals: 8, 6-15, 6, 24

3-point FG: SMA 2, Bemidji 2 (Olson 1, Larose 1)

Halftime: SMA 35, Bemidji 10

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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