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BHS this week: It's tournament week for Lumberjacks

The Bemidji winter sports teams enter the final week of the year on winning streaks, and the squads are eager to resume their schedules and try to build upon their early-season success.

"The kids are excited to be involved in a bracket-play tournament," said BHS boys hockey coach Wade Chiodo, whose team heads to Duluth on Tuesday for first-round action of the Central-Denfeld Invitational.

"It's been a week since we've played and the kids are ready to go."

Tournament play also awaits the girls and boys basketball teams and the wrestlers this week. The girls open the post-Christmas schedule Monday at a four-team event in Albert Lea while the boys basketball team heads to Chisago Lakes Tuesday and Wednesday.

The wrestlers travel west for the West Fargo Invitational Wednesday and Thursday while Tuesday finds the swimmers competing at the Brainerd Invitational and the skiers visiting Deer River.

The skiers also will be in action Thursday at Brainerd.

Girls basketball plays at Albert Lea

BHS dropped its first four games but has won its last two, including Tuesday's thrilling 53-51 victory at Moorhead.

Those wins were the perfect tonic for the Lumberjacks and provided a spark which should provide dividends in the new year.

"In the win at Moorhead we learned that we can gut things out," said BHS coach Rick Kehoe. "We found a way to get a win and we proved to ourselves that we can come back and win a close game."

Greta Steever scored off an inbounds pass at the buzzer to give the Jacks the winning points. Earlier in the second half Bemidji owned a 15-point lead but the Spuds overcame the deficit and actually led by a point with a minute to play.

But BHS eventually prevailed and the Jacks enter Monday's 12:30 p.m. tournament game against Hayfield with a 2-4 record. Hayfield was 5-1. Monday's other contest pits Cannon Falls (2-5) against Albert Lea (1-5).

Monday's winners will meet in Tuesday's championship game and the losers will battle for third place.

With the exception of Bemidji, the tournament teams hail from southern Minnesota, and Kehoe is excited to match his squad against teams from the other half of the state.

"I'll be very interested to see what these teams are like," the coach said. "We know nothing about them and we'll be heading to Albert Lea blind. In fact, when I told the girls we were playing in Albert Lea they had no idea where Albert Lea was."

For the record, Albert Lea is south of the Twin Cities and a snowball's throw from the Iowa border.

How the Lumberjacks fare in the tournament is not as important as how they play, according to Kehoe.

"Our goal and our philosophy have not changed," the coach said. "It always is just to improve.

"I don't know what to expect this week. If we are healthy we should be able to play with all of those teams. But if we go down there shorthanded because of illness, it could be a struggle," Kehoe added.

The Lumberjacks have been battling sickness, but the coach is hoping that the holiday break has given his players the opportunity to overcome the bug that has invaded the team.

"Every team goes through this," Kehoe said. "In the long run, I'd rather have to deal with illness now than at the end of February."

Monday's starting cast is expected to feature Jess Yost, Steever, Maren Erpelding, Jenna Sagedahl and Cheyenne Woods. Certain to see extended time off the bench are Caitlin Hadrava, Cori Treat, Summer Monsrud and Kellie Morehouse.

Boys basketball faces Chisago Lakes

The unbeaten boys basketball team will open this week's action 6 p.m. Tuesday against Chisago Lakes in first-round play of the Chisago Lakes tournament.

Tuesday's other match-up pits St. Paul Highland Park against North St. Paul. Tuesday's losers will meet on Wednesday in the third-place game while the winners will battle for the championship.

BHS is 5-0 while Chisago Lakes is 3-1. The Lumberjacks are coming off last week's 81-48 home victory over Sauk Rapids-Rice.

Carey Woods had the hot hand in the win as he drained 10 field goals, five of them from 3-point range. Cody Rutledge added 17 points and Ryan Rude 10.

Boys hockey team heads to Duluth

Coach Chiodo's forces enter Tuesday's 5:30 p.m. game against Cloquet with a 7-0-1 record while Cloquet is 5-3.

Also in Bemidji's bracket are Forest Lake (1-3-2) and Andover (3-3) and those teams will clash prior to the Bemidji-Cloquet contest.

The other division includes Duluth Central-Denfeld, Buffalo, Rosemount and New Prague.

The teams will stay within their brackets for the first two rounds. If Bemidji wins Tuesday it will play the winner of the Forest Lake-Andover contest on Wednesday. A loss Tuesday would drop the Lumberjacks into a game with the Forest Lake-Andover loser.

Thursday's action will include cross-bracket play for seventh, fifth and third places plus the championship.

"I don't know much about Cloquet except that it has a very good top line," Chiodo said. "We just have to play sound hockey in all three zones and finish the plays when we get a chance."

Cloquet's top line includes Jack McFarlane (5 goals, 11 assists and 16 points), Ben Michaud (6-15-21) and Nolan Meyer (15-7-22). Collectively Cloquet has scored 45 goals while its opponents have lit the lamp 20 times.

Steven Heller is the lone Lumberjack who has scored in double figures (11 points). Matt Serratore and Tyler Follis are the leading goal scorers with six while Max Hazelton has five and Heller and Jake White four. As a team BHS has scored 24 goals and yielded nine.

"We're looking forward to playing teams we don't normally see," Chiodo said. "Our goal will be to win every period and win the tournament and if we accomplish our first goal we will accomplish the second."

Girls hockey team hosts Detroit Lakes

After posting a 1-1-2 road record in its last four starts the girls hockey team returns home Tuesday when it entertains Detroit Lakes at 7 p.m. at Nymore Arena.

On Dec. 18 at Brainerd the Jacks tied the Flying Warriors 4-4 and last week they posted a 5-4 victory at International Falls. Allie Heifort sparked Bemidji to that victory as she switched from her forward position to make an emergency start as the goalie. And Heifort played well as she made 16 stops in her netminding debut.

Allie Lapp had two goals in the win while Amanda Hunt, Chaniel Nelson and Janie Johnson scored the other goals.

Swimmers, skiers, wrestlers travel

The BHS swimmers and divers, who are coming off last week's 95-91 win at Park Rapids, travel to the Brainerd Invitational Tuesday. Coach Woody Leindecker is still experimenting with his lineup and will use Tuesday's invitational as a tool to better assess his team's potential.

"We're going to move kids to different events to try and find them a home for the rest of the season," Leindecker said. "We have many swimmers who can do well in the different strokes and we need to find the best events for them."

Leindecker doesn't expect the Lumberjacks to challenge for the team championship but he does believe Bemidji can have many athletes place high in the individual events.

"Because of our lack of depth we probably won't be among the team leaders," he said. "When you are allotted four scorers per event the lack of depth will hurt. But we do have athletes who will be in the chase for individual championships."

The skiers will return to the trails Tuesday at Deer River and Thursday at Brainerd. They have been off since Dec. 18 when they hosted the Bemidji Relays.

Rance Bahr's wrestlers will be in West Fargo Wednesday and Thursday for an invitational.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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