Bemidji High School girls basketball season ends in Class 3A state tournament quarterfinal
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Bemidji High School girls basketball team's dream of a state championship ended Wednesday afternoon at Williams Arena.
The Lumberjacks fell to Sartell-St. Stephen 65-49 in the Class 3A quarterfinals and their 20-game winning streak came to a close in only the second loss for the team this season.
"Just the fact that we got this far makes this a good season," Bemidji senior Erika Weimann said. "But we wanted to go farther. We're not going to complain but this one hurts a little bit right now."
Weimann scored a team-high 13 points for the Lumberjacks, who struggled to crack Sartell's defense and find open shots. Kayla Hirt scored 11 points, less than half her team-high average. Kelsey Heisler added 10.
The Sabres (24-5), who avenged an earlier loss to Bemidji this season, were led by Haley Guetter with 21 points. Andrea Whitney added 19.
The Lumberjacks, seeded No. 3 in the state tournament, ended the season with a 25-2 record in their first state appearance since 2001. The players cited a tough day shooting for the loss and the field goal percentage shows the cold numbers.
Sartell was 25 for 57 (43 percent) from the field while Bemidji was 16 for 52 (30 percent). The Sabres also won the rebounding battle 42-32.
"I think they might have come out a little more fired up than we were," Heisler said. "We ran the offense too quick and missed too many shots. We also didn't rebound very well. In a way it seems like we weren't looking for the right shots. We'd try to drive right by (Sartell) and it didn't work."
The Sabres used defense, ball control and a dribble-and-drive offense to keep the Jacks out of rhythm in becoming the lone unseeded team to reach the semifinal round.
Sartell advances to face Benilde-St. Margaret's Thursday in one semifinal. Hill-Murray faces top-seeded DeLaSalle in the other semifinal at Target Center.
"Sartell just outplayed us, outcoached us and outshot us," Bemidji coach Rick Kehoe said. "I thanked the seniors for their play this season and told them all to keep their heads up and not be ashamed of this season."
Starting with Weimann's 3-pointer on the opening possession, the game stayed close early. Neither team led by more than five points in the first half.
Bemidji looked to go strong into halftime, leading 25-22 with just under two minutes remaining in the first half. But Gutter would get a layup, Ashton Haider would follow that with a 3-pointer and Allison Rengel's layup with five seconds left gave Sartell a 29-25 lead at the break.
Weimann led the Lumberjacks in the first half with eight points. Hirt, Bemidji's leading scorer, had four points along with Kenzie Kane and Heisler.
Sartell's surge at the end of the first half carried into the second half. The Sabres went on an 11-2 run over the first eight minutes of the half to build a 42-27 lead with 12:45 to play.
The Jacks had three steals in that span, but could not convert on the other end. Bemidji went nearly five minutes without a basket.
"I think personally I wasn't mentally tough enough to make the shots that I normally make," Hirt said. "I'm usually there to help the team. We came back, but I wish I could have contributed more."
Bemidji cut Sartell's lead to 47-40 with 4:16 to play on a pair of Hirt free throws.
But the seven-point deficit was as close as Bemidji would get the rest of the way.
"We were only down 10 for a long time there and we have come from behind to win games before," Weimann said. "But they would stop us and give us only one chance to shoot and that makes it harder to work your way back."
The players were disappointed after the game and there were tears as the players walked off the court together in arms.
"I told all the underclassmen to remember the feeling," Kehoe said. "It's supposed to hurt. It wouldn't hurt if the game didn't mean anything to you. We really expected that we were going to make a run to that championship game and the expectations make it hurt so much."
Seniors Megan Huseby, Abby Hendricks, Selina Gilbertson, Grace Felling, Caitlin Gangelhoff, Weimann and Heisler all played in their final game for Bemidji at Williams Arena.
Hirt, who has verbally committed to play for the University of Minnesota, will return as Bemidji's top scorer next year for her senior season.
"I think that we're not happy and we're down right now because we expected so much more," Hirt said. "We'll hopefully learn from this experience and it will make us better next year."
Sartell (65): Morgan Haider 2-3 3-4 7, Brittany Madden 0-0 0-0, Haley Guetter 8-21 3-4 21, Jenna Flynn 2-5 1-2 5, Andrea Whitney 9-17 1-2 19, Ashton Haider 1-3 3-4 6, Allison Rengel 3-8 1-1 7. Team field goals- 25-57. Team free throws 12-17.
Bemidji (49): Kenzie Kane 4-8 0-0 8, Erika Weimann 3-8 4-4 13, Kayla Hirt 3-14 4-6 11, Megan Huseby 0-4 0-0 0, Kelsey Heisler 3-8 4-4 10, Jess Yost 2-5 1-2 5, Selina Gilbertson 1-2 0-2 2. Played: Maren Erpelding, Summer Monsrud, Grace Felling, Caitlin Gangelhoff. Team field goals 16-52. Team free throws 13-18.
3-point goals- Sartell 3-8 (Guetter 2, Haider 1), Bemidji 4-11 (Weimann 3, Hirt 1). Rebounds- Sartell 42 (Whitney 14, Guetter 9, Rengel 4, Flynn 3, M Haider 3, A Haider 2, Madden 1), Bemidji 32 (Hirt 9, Heisler 5, Yost 5, Kane 4, Huseby 3, Weimann 2, Gangelhoff 2, Gilbertson 1, Erpelding 1. Turnovers- Sartell 17, Bemidji 18. Assists- Sartell 15 (Guetter 7), Bemidji 9 (Heisler 2).
Sartell 29 36 - 65
Bemidji 25 24 - 49