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BOYS BASKETBALL: Jacks hang close but fall 58-52 to Alexandria

Bemidji High School senior Jace Peterson (00) tries to sneak through two defenders on Saturday late in the second half against Alexandria on Saturday at the BHS Gymnasium. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 1 / 3
Bemidji High School senior Linaes Whiting (13) looks for an opening against Alexandria on Saturday at the BHS Gymnasium. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 3
Bemidji High School sophomore Colten Jensen (51) extends for a layup against Alexandria on Saturday at the BHS Gymnasium. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School boys basketball team kept within striking distance all throughout Saturday’s second half, but the Lumberjacks never got over the hump in a 58-52 loss to Alexandria at the BHS Gymnasium.

“I thought we fought. Our effort was there. We just didn’t knock down shots like we need to,” Bemidji head coach Travis Peterson said. “It’s hard to overcome our poor shooting tonight. It comes down to knocking down shots. We can’t score 52 points and win many games.”

The Jacks (11-5) had a season low in points on Saturday, never finding a flow to help them take control in the first half or mount a comeback in the second half.

“We got some pretty good looks, we just didn’t knock them down,” Peterson said. “In the first half, we missed a lot of close shots. We missed contested layups in and around the rim. We need to make a majority of those, and that put us behind… It’s different playing from behind. We’ve got to make shots.”

BHS took a 16-9 lead on a crafty layup from Linaes Whiting midway through the first half, but the Cardinals (9-6) dominated the rest of the half. Alex scored the next six to get within a point after a hesitation drive and finish from Jared Schneider, and after a pair of Jace Peterson free throws, the Cards took over.

An 11-0 run put Bemidji in a 26-18 deficit with three minutes left in the half, which turned to 28-22 by the break.

Whiting drained a deep 3-pointer early in the second half to bring the Jacks within three, 31-28, and the difference teetered around that mark down to the finish. Ryan Bieberdorf knocked down a corner three with nine minutes to play, making for a 40-37 game.

But as often as BHS knocked down a shot, Alex found an answer.

Trey Hoepner sunk a 3-pointer right after Bieberdorf to regain the Cardinals’ six-point edge, and then Justin Balcome made it eight at 49-41 with a three of his own.

With three minutes remaining, Jace Peterson finished off an and-one layup to get Bemidji back within 51-46, but empty possessions forced fouling situations and Alexandria iced the game from the free throw line.

The Lumberjacks never cut it closer than three in the second half, taking a 58-52 loss instead.

“It was a good test for us. We haven’t been in that position too much, and we’re going to have to find a way to play (from behind),” coach Peterson said. “It was a learning night for us.”

Whiting netted a team-high 13 points for BHS, while Jace Peterson added 11 and Spencer Konecne 10. The Cardinals had 17 from Balcome and 13 from Schneider, as well as 12 and 11 from Hoepner and Carter Stockert, respectively.

“One of our goals is to keep teams under 60, and we did that. But we didn’t score enough to overcome their offensive output,” coach Peterson said. “The kids battled. I’m proud of the effort. We’ll learn from it.”

The Jacks will return to the hardwood at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, for a showdown with East Grand Forks.

Alexandria 58, Bemidji 52

AHS 28 30 -- 58

BHS 22 30 -- 52

Alexandria scorers: Balcome 17, Schneider 13, Hoepner 12, Stockert 11, Ludwig 5.

Bemidji scorers: Whiting 13, J. Peterson 11, Konecne 10, Bieberdorf 9, Jensen 6, Beberg 3.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.

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