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Pat Miller: This Week at Bemidji High School - Section tournaments continue for Lumberjacks

There is an extra spring in the step of Bemidji boys hockey coach Wade Chiodo when the regular season is in the rear-view mirror and the postseason is on the horizon. And for the Lumberjacks, the postseason starts 7 p.m. today when they entertain Buffalo in the quarterfinal round of the Section 8-2A tournament.

“The regular season is over and now we begin the fun time of the season,” Chiodo said after BHS and Thief River Falls skated to a 2-2 draw Friday at the Community Arena. “Being ready for the playoffs is what you work for during the regular season and we’re ready.”

The Jacks (10-12-3) earned the fourth seed in the section playdowns while the Bison are ranked fifth.

Today’s other quarterfinals find No. 8 River Lakes (9-16) making the ridiculously long trip from Paynesville to No. 1 seeded Roseau (16-7-1), second seed Moorhead (11-12-1) hosting No. 7 St. Cloud Tech (11-13) and No. 3 Brainerd (15-7-2) entertaining No. 6 Monticello (14-11).

If the Lumberjacks win tonight they will advanced to Saturday’s semifinals and, most likely, head to Roseau.

During the regular season BHS nipped Buffalo 2-1 in overtime at the holiday tournament hosted by Denfeld. That head-to-head win helped Bemidji gain the fourth seed and its reward, a home game.

The Section 8-2A title game will be Feb. 26 at a neutral site.

Bemidji’s wrestlers are in the midst of their postseason and this weekend they will head to Sartell for the Section 8-3A individual tournament.

BHS advanced to the semifinals of the section team meet after eliminating Sartell 43-18 last Saturday in the section quarterfinals. But the run to the state team tournament ended later Saturday when Bemidji lost 45-21 to Little Falls.

The Lumberjacks should do well at the section individual event and leading the way will be Brian Maas and Kade Johnson. Maas owns a 37-0 record and is the state’s top-rated wrestler at 113 pounds. Johnson also is 37-0 and has 35 pins. The senior ranks third in the state at 182 pounds.

Bemidji’s gymnasts saw their season come to an end over the weekend as they placed fifth at the Section 8-2A competition. Only the top team and the top four individuals in each event advanced to state and the Jacks fell short in that quest.

Haley Gregg placed 11th in the all around (34.925) and Sara Erickson was 12th (34.05). Gregg also was the top Lumberjack performer in the vault (9.05), bars (8.585) and floor (8.8) while Erickson paced BHS on the beam (9.0). The Lumberjacks were hampered by an injury to Alyssa Allen. She hurt her ankle during warm-ups as was limited to the parallel bars.

“This was a very good group to work with,” said Bemidji coach Don Papreck. “They helped each other improve all season and that made it a fun year.”

The Jacks also were awarded a team academic gold certificate as a reward for having a team grade point average of 3.839. To qualify for the certificate a team needs to have a 3.75 gpa.

The swimmers and divers have been off since winning a dual Feb. 6 at Duluth East but they will return to the water Friday and Saturday at the section meet in Alexandria. Friday’s preliminaries will begin at 3 p.m. and Saturday’s finals are scheduled for noon.

Among the Lumberjacks who has a chance to win a section title and advance to state is diver Sam Howard. The senior currently is the top-ranked diver in the Class A division.

The boys basketball team posted its third victory of the campaign Saturday when it traveled to Sauk Rapids and returned with a 72-58 win. BHS took a 3-20 record into Monday’s home make-up game against Thief River Falls and the Lumberjacks will end the season Thursday at home against Grand Rapids.

The Section 8-4A seedings will be determined Sunday and the section quarterfinals will begin on Feb. 25. Buffalo currently leads the section QRF rankings and Bemidji is eighth.

Today’s schedule also finds the girls basketball team heading to St. Cloud Apollo. On Friday the Jacks (3-16) will make their final home appearance against Buffalo. The regular season will end next week with games at Grand Rapids (Feb. 25) and Brainerd (Feb. 28).

HIrt starts for Gophers

Former Lumberjack Kayla Hirt has cracked the starting lineup for the University of Minnesota’s women’s basketball team and Saturday she scored 16 points to help the Gophers (17-9, 6-6 Big Ten) stop Northwestern 82-64.

Hirt drained eight of her 13 field goal attempts, grabbed eight rebounds, dished two assists and blocked a shot.

A sophomore, Hirt has played in all 26 game and has started five of them. She is averaging 6.9 points and 3.5 rebounds while playing 21.5 minutes a game.

Guard Sari Noga, who is the daughter of Bemidji High School and Bemidji State Hall of Fame inductee John Noga, has started all 26 games and is averaging 7.6 points per contest. She also is third on the team with 64 assists.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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