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Spuds hand Bemidji boys basketball team its first loss

Bemidji's Ryan Rude races down the court following a steal and is chased by Moorhead's Matt Ellingson during the second half of Saturday's game. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Saturday's game between Bemidji and Moorhead at the BHS gym had all the ingredients required for an entertaining and competitive boys basketball battle.

A packed gym, two unbeaten teams and athletes on both sides of the floor who employ an aggressive brand of basketball were on display and when the crowd made their way into the frigid parking lot everyone headed toward their cars buzzing about what they had just witnessed.

For the record, Moorhead outlasted the Lumberjacks 84-78 by converting its free throws and outscoring Bemidji 7-2 in the final 1:14. The Jacks, however, also were winners because they realized that they have the talent to stick with the best teams on their schedule.

"It was a very fun game to play," said BHS junior Carey Woods who followed Friday's 36-point performance against Brainerd with a splendid 35-point effort against the Spuds.

"We knew it was going to be a dogfight from start to finish. What we learned is that we need to do a better job of rebounding and playing defense as a team. We can't leave one guy hanging defensively."

Bemidji employed a variety of defenses Saturday but nothing they tried could stop hot-shooting Aaron Lien. The 6-4 lefty hit from everywhere and finished with 34 points on the strength of 15 baskets, including four from 3-point land.

"Lien played a heck of a game," said Bemidji coach Jeff Brown. "We kept changing our defense to try and stop him but we couldn't.

"Moorhead (7-0) is a good team and I give them all the credit in the world," Brown added.

The Lumberjacks will face a height disadvantage in many of their games this winter. On way to a 9-0 record BHS has been undersized on numerous occasions but each time it was able to overcome that deficit by its aggressive brand of basketball.

Saturday night Moorhead owned a distinct height advantage and was able to match Bemidji's quickness and intensity. The result was an evenly-played game except on the boards.

"The difference in the game was the rebounding," Brown said. "We didn't do a good job on the glass. Moorhead is very physical on the glass and we didn't match them."

The game's opening possession gave notice of what was to come.

Moorhead won the tip and bullied its way to two offensive rebounds which set up Lien's rebound bucket.

The teams played on even terms in the opening 18 minutes as the first half saw eight lead changes. BHS managed a 40-38 lead at the break on the strength of 19 points by Woods.

"My role is to be a scorer and I try to get that done as much as possible while trying to get everybody involved," Woods said.

The second half followed a similar script and no more than three points separated the teams until Moorhead hit a free throw with 12 seconds to play to widen its lead to 82-78. After the Lumberjacks missed a shot in the final seconds they were forced to foul again and Travis Hand iced the game with two more charity tosses.

"I'm proud of the effort by our kids," Brown said. "We kept battling back and the outcome came down to a mistake or two at the end.

"Ultimately the size disadvantage was the difference and we'll focus on that aspect of the game at practice on Monday. We have many tough games coming up and we'll go back to work on Monday."

Joining Woods in double figures were Ryan Rude with 16 and Mitch Brown with 10.

Bemidji, 9-1, will be at Thief River Falls Tuesday.

Moorhead (84): Fernholz 3, 2-2, 9; Ellingson 3, 0-0, 6; Lien 15, 0-1, 34; Widner 1, 2-2, 4; Wilmer 1, 0-0, 2; Hand 6, 6-8, 18; Watnemo 4, 1-2, 9; Bosche 0, 0-0, 0. Totals: 34, 11-16, 84.

Bemidji (78): Hengel 3, 0-0, 8; Rude 6, 0-0, 16; Kroening 1, 0-0, 2; Rutledge 2, 1-2, 5; Brown 4, 2-2, 10; Woods 14, 2-3, 35; Vonasek 0, 0-0, 0; Richardson 1, 0-0, 2; Declusin 0, 0-0, 0. Totals: 33, 5-7, 78.

Fouls: Moorhead 13, Bemidji 22

Halftime: Bemidji 40, Moorhead 38

Junior Varsity

Moorhead (62): Kasper 2, 5-8, 9; Wilmer 3, 0-0, 6; Robertson 5, 5-7, 16; Danielson ,2 2-4, 6; Roesler 3, 0-0, 6; Bye 4, 1-2, 9; Anderson 3, 4-6, 10. Totals: 22, 17-27, 62.

Bemidji (47): Baumgartner 0, 0-0, 0; Fodness 1, 1-3, 3; Fairbanks 4, 1-2, 11; Supalla 1, 2-2, 5; Cervenka 4, 0-0, 8; Hovila 0, 0-0, 0; Sherk 1, 0-0, 2; Huseby 0, 1-2, 1; Declusin 1, 0-0, 2; Mills 3, 2-2, 8; Sullivan 3, 1-2, 7. Totals: 18, 8-13, 47

Fouls: Moorhead 15, Bemidji 18

Halftime: Moorhead 24, Bemidji 21

Freshman Game

Moorhead (34): Roberison 5, Moon 5, Swenson 6, Jones 2, Thompson 2, Nelson 14. Totals: 10, 9-12, 34

Bemidji: McNallan 4, Rutledge 5, Ingalls 4, Vonasek 2, Seado 7, Hirt 10, Misco 2, McLean 6. Totals: 18, 3-12, 40

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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