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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Lumberjacks dominant in 62-35 playoff rout

LITTLE FALLS -- The Bemidji High School girls basketball team didn’t leave much room for doubt Tuesday night.

With their season on the line, the No. 5 Lumberjacks dominated No. 4 Little Falls in the Section 8AAA quarterfinals, opening their postseason with a landslide 62-35 win in Little Falls.

“This was our best complete game that we’ve had all year, without it even being close,” BHS head coach Steve Schreiber said. “When it’s win or end your season, it tends to bring either the worst or the best out of you. It definitely brought the best out of us tonight.”

Bemidji (9-17) turned the potential nailbiter into a blowout early on. After scoring the first five points of the night off Flyers (11-16) turnovers, Macy Flatness put the Jacks up 13-4 with a tricky finish inside.

Lindsey Hildenbrand later added a three-point play in the paint and a 3-pointer from beyond the arc before Katie Alto hit another three, putting BHS ahead 30-10 behind an emphatic 15-0 run.

And the rout was on.

Bemidji brought a 36-15 lead into the break, and it snowballed into 47-17 early in the second half. Two Mackenzie Nicklason layups started an 11-0 run that brought on the 30-point difference. After Samantha Edlund followed with a layup, Hildenbrand mixed in the final five with a 3-pointer and another bunny.

“I feel like tonight, the difference was we trusted in my offense more than we have all year,” Schreiber said. “We trusted in actually running the offense more than freestyling. And then we took care of each other on defense, like we actually wanted to be there for each other to help each other out. This was a game that we actually wanted to win as a team, not as five individuals.”

Little Falls scored the next 12 points, closing within 18 with seven minutes to play, but Ciara Cermak shut down the Flyers by ripping off a personal 8-0 run in response to restore order to the blowout.

It culminated to the 62-35 win, sending the Lumberjacks to the 8AAA quarterfinals for the second consecutive season behind their largest playoff victory since March 5, 2010.

Cermak’s 14 on the night led all scorers, while Hildenbrand and Edlund followed suit with 13 and 10, respectively. Sophia Sowada had 12 points to pace the Flyers, and Kali Mammenga added 10.

Bemidji will next meet Alexandria in the Section 8AAA semifinals at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at St. Cloud State with a trip to the section title game on the line.

“I’m looking forward to having a fresh team against Alex on Saturday on a big court, on a big stage, on a lose-or-go-home, lose-or-end-your-season type of platform,” Schreiber said. “Anything can happen at this point.”

No. 5 Bemidji 62, No. 4 Little Falls 35

BHS 36 26 -- 62

LF 15 20 -- 35

Bemidji scorers: Cermak 14, Hildenbrand 13, Edlund 10, Alto 8, Whelan 5, M. Flatness 4, Beard 2, Mills 2, Nicklason 2, E. Wade 2.

Little Falls scorers: Sowada 12, Mammenga 10, Kirk 5, R. Tembreull 4, Jordan 2, S. Tembreull 2.

Micah Friez

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

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