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Bemidji girls basketball team takes No. 1 Grand Rapids to the limit

Bemidji's Caitlin Hadrava outmuscles Grand Rapids' Kelly Niles to grab an offensive rebound and put it back for two points Thursday night. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The Section 7-3A girls basketball seedings were announce Thursday and Bemidji was ranked fourth in the five-team section while Grand Rapids earned the top spot.

The two teams met Thursday in Bemidji in a regular-season game, and if BHS can defeat No. 5 Cloquet Tuesday in Bemidji the Lumberjacks and Thunderhawks will stage a rematch March 4 in the section semifinals at Grand Rapids.

Thursday night Bemidji's goal was to make a statement and, despite losing 59-51 to Grand Rapids, BHS accomplished that assignment.

The Jacks had Grand Rapids on the ropes most of the night and led the section's top seed 42-31 with 12:32 to play. The Thunderhawks, however, whittled away at their deficit in the final 10 minutes, eventually overtook BHS 51-49 with 3:30 remaining and widened the gap by converting their free throws down the stretch.

"We faded at the end but we proved that we can play with anybody and that we can beat any team we will see in the playoffs," Bemidji coach Rick Kehoe said. "We took it to the No. 1 seed in the section and we gave notice that we will be a team to worry about in the postseason."

For 24 minutes Thursday Bemidji was the better team. Offensively the Jacks were able to work the ball inside to Jess Yost, drive the lane and hit the occasional outside bucket. They also controlled the boards, were more aggressive and seemed a step quicker than the Thunderhawks.

"We were playing great basketball," Kehoe said.

Yost, who worked hard to find open space inside and took advantage of her opportunities, had 12 points at intermission and Caitlin Hadrava added 11. Bemidji scored the final four points of the stanza and owned a 31-27 lead at the break.

The trend continued at the start of the second half and a pair of buckets by Cheyenne Woods widened Bemidji's lead to 35-27. A few minutes later Yost and Hadrava each converted a pair of free throws and the Lumberjacks were on top 42-31.

But BHS could not maintain the upper hand as the shots that dropped in the first half now bounced off the rim. At the same time Grand Rapids, which had no answer to Bemidji's sagging zone defense, finally found holes in the zone and was able to work the ball inside.

"You could see that we were getting nervous. We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win," Kehoe said.

Once the visitors regained the lead they were not about to allow Bemidji to rally as Grand Rapids converted six free throws down the stretch.

"We lost but we did send a message to the rest of the section that they will have to worry about Bemidji," Kehoe said. "We may be 6-16 but the way we are playing now I would think we might be the best six-win team in the state."

Grand Rapids (59): Kane 5, 5-6, 16; Peterson 0, 0-0, 0; Corrick 4, 7-10, 15; Niles 2, 5-6, 10; Cleveland 3, 2-2, 8 Sondergaard 4, 2-3, 10; Anderson 0, 0-0, 0; Carruth 0, 0-0, 0. Totals: 18, 21-27, 59

Bemidji (51): Erpelding 0, 0-0, 0; Monsrud 1, 1-1, 5; Sagedahl 0, 0-0, 0; Treat 0, 0-0, 0; Yost 7, 3-5, 17; Woods 2, 0-0, 4; Morehouse 3, 2-2, 8; Hadrava 5, 4-4,15; Steever 1, 0-0, 2. Totals: 19, 10-12, 51

Fouls: Grand Rapids 18, Bemidji 19

Halftime: Bemidji 31, Grand Rapids 27

Junior Varsity

Grand Rapids (55): K.Olson 3, 0-0, 7; Gibbons ,1 0-0, 2; Sheppard 2, 2-4, 6; J.Olson 5, 2-2, 12; Letendre 1, 0-0, 2; Kane 7, 0-0, 14; Allen 6, 0-0, 12. Totals: 25, 4-6, 55

Bemidji (32): Myhra 2, 0-0, 4; Treat 1, 0-0, 2; Bardwell 0, 1-2, 1; Mart 1, 2-4, 4; Morehouse 0, 1-2, 1; Gronhovd 3, 1-2, 8; Long 2, 0-0, 4; Lusby 3, 2-2, 8. Totals: 12, 7-12, 32

Fouls: Grand Rapids 11, Bemidji 13

Halftime: Grand Rapids 29, Bemidji 18

Freshman Game

Bemidji 45, Grand Rapids 18

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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