Girls basketball: Brainerd ends Jacks season
You can't win if you don't score. The Bemidji girls basketball team found that out again the hard way Saturday, bowing to Brainerd 51-45 in the semifinals of the Section 8-4A tournament at Wadena. "I'm very, very proud of the way we played tonigh...
You can't win if you don't score.
The Bemidji girls basketball team found that out again the hard way Saturday, bowing to Brainerd 51-45 in the semifinals of the Section 8-4A tournament at Wadena.
"I'm very, very proud of the way we played tonight," Bemidji head coach Rick Kehoe said. "We battled them until the final horn but we just couldn't get any shots to fall for too long a period of time."
"But this team has turned the corner and I expect nothing but good things in the coming years."
Brainerd moved to the finals Friday at St. John's University against top seeded St. Cloud Tech, which eliminated Elk River 68-49.
It carries a 26-1 mark to the championship.
Brainerd reached 20-7, matching Bemidji's final record.
Bemidji went into the game knowing it would have to mount a perimeter attack to open the inside for Kayla Hirt, Kelsey Nelson and Ana Molnar.
Unfortunately no outside attack developed until midway through the second half at which time the Warriors held a 35-23 lead.
While Bemidji was able to slice that margin down the stretch it came no closer than five points with less than two minutes left.
And Brainerd was able to hold the game around that level until the end.
For the first three minutes, Bemidji seemed on its way to the final. For Kayla Hirt hit four times inside, three times on rebounds, to give Bemidji an 8-0 lead.
But Brainerd adjusted its defenses at this point and ripped off the next 11 points to take a lead it never lost. Bemidji managed only 10 points the rest of the half, all from Hirt and Molnar except for two Lexi Gauwitz free throws and trailed 27-18.
Bemidji had kept close until the last two minutes, down 21-18 at that pint when Brainerd ripped off the last six of the half to widen the gap.
Hirt had 12 of the 18 Bemidji points and Molnar four.
Brainerd showed more balance with Tess Rahto showing nine and Kayla Huether and Megan Bates seven.
Brainerd hit another run of five early in the second half to up the margin to 32-20 and led 36-23 when Ashley Erickson drained the first trey for Bemidji, the first outside shot to fall until that point.
Meg Claypool followed with another but Brainerd was able to match Bemidji basket for basket to maintain a 10 point lead until less than eight minutes were left.
Erickson's second trey and a free throw by Megan Larson brought Bemidji back to 45-40, the closest it would come.
Brainerd compounded the problem by killing off 30-45 seconds on each possession to kill the clock with Larson's free throw coming with less than two minutes to play.
A free throw by Bates and two by Emily Theising widened the gap to 48-40 and sealed the Bemidji fate.
Bates led Brainerd with 14 while Rahto ended with 11 with three others at 9-8-7.
Kayla Hirt led both teams with 15 but no teammate had more than six.
"We lose five very fine seniors but we have five full time players back plus key members from a B Team that ended 22-3 and should be able to fill the gaps," Kehoe said.
Kelsey Nelson, Gauwitz, Molnar, Erickson and Janelle Christensen will graduate. Kayla and Ashley Hirt, Larson, Claypool and Abby Hendricks head the returning cast.
Up from the B Team will come Kylie Detschman, Erika Weimann, Kelsey Heisler, Caitlin Gangelhoff. Selina Gilbertson and Erika Bauer among others.
BEMIDJI (45) Nelson 1 0-0 1 2; K. Hirt 6 3-5 1 15; Larson 2 2-2 4 6; Gauwitz 1 2-2 2 5; Claypool 1 0-0 2 3; Molnar 3 0-1 3 6; Erickson 2 0-0 3 6; A. Hirt 1 0-0 1 2; Hendricks 0 0-0 1 0; Christensen 0 0-0 2 0; Totals:16 7-10 20 45
BRAINERD (51) Neugebauer 3 3-5 1 9; Huether 2 4-5 2 8; Bates 5 3-6 0 14; Marolt 0 0-0 0 0; Baron 1 0-0 4 2; Rahto 4 3-4 0 11; Theising 1 4-4 3 7; Rosenthal 0 0-0 0 0; Parsons 0 0-0 1 0; Grauman 0 0-0 1 0; Cappers 0 0-0 1 0; Totals:16 17-24 13 51
Halftime score; Brainerd 27, Bemidji 18
Three point field goals; Bemidji 4 (Erickson 2, Gauwitz, Claypool); Brainerd 2 (Bates, Theising)