BOYS BASKETBALL: Bemidji stays unbeaten after dominant second half
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School boys basketball team wasn’t making ends meet in a lackluster first half Thursday night. But fueled by a dominant second-half surge against Grand Rapids, the Lumberjacks powered a 26-point turnaround and flipped a 12-point deficit into a 75-61 win.
“We weren’t being aggressive. We were playing very passive, not attacking the gaps,” Bemidji head coach Travis Peterson said of the first half. “(In the second half), I would say definitely our depth was key again. … Energy was a big factor. We just had more of it down the stretch.”
The Thunderhawks (4-9) slowed the pace at the start to combat the Jacks’ signature run-and-gun attack, but BHS (7-0) used its half-court offense to go up 11-6 through a 9-0 run. Grand Rapids answered, though, running off 10 of 12 points to regain the lead at 16-13.
And soon after, John Sutherland netted seven straight points to put the Thunderhawks ahead by eight, which then stretched to nine at 32-23 at halftime.
“They were playing more of their game,” Bemidji senior Ryan Bieberdorf said. “They were slowing it down for that half-court offense, where we’re really more of a transition team. We’ve got to get out and run, and they were just slowing it down. And we were forcing things that didn’t need to be forced.”
That story changed in the second half.
After Sutherland opened the final half with a 3-pointer, the Jacks powered ahead with an avalanche of a 17-0 run. Spencer Konecne gave BHS a 36-35 edge with an and-one post move from the block, and Colten Jensen followed when he turned a Kade Peterson dish into an inside score. Kade Peterson then capped the run with a fast-break layup five minutes out of halftime.
“We rotated in a lot of guys,” coach Peterson said of Bemidji’s depth. “We were subbing early and often in the half, I thought. They didn’t play as deep as we did, no team has yet this season. It continues to be a strength for us.”
After the 17-0 spurt, the Lumberjacks had a 40-35 lead to work with. It quickly tightened up to 41-all, however, starting a back-and-forth battle that held firm by a 53-53 deadlock. But then Bemidji started to pull away.
Konecne started the separation with another and-one score, and Bieberdorf later drained a triple for a 63-56 advantage. Grand Rapids pulled back within four with an ensuing 3-pointer by Stacy Washington, but then the Jacks took over.
Jensen finessed a crafty reverse layup and then added two free throws to put Bemidji ahead 69-59. He and Quincy Wilson combined to go 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 2 minutes, 16 seconds, icing away the 75-61 win.
“We just had to play our game,” Bieberdorf said. “It was really good for us, this game. It was a good test for adversity.”
Jensen finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Bieberdorf mixed in 16 points alongside 13 points and eight rebounds from Konecne. Kade Peterson added six assists, as well.
For the Thunderhawks, Sutherland tallied 28 points, and Washington had another 19.
Bemidji had 15 turnovers in the first half, then just two after halftime.
“That was really important for us to have a game where we were behind, made a run in the second half to even it up and stretch it out,” coach Peterson said. “… It was big-time, and ‘poise’ is a great word to describe the character of the boys down the stretch.”
Grand Rapids will host a rematch at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, for Bemidji’s next taste of action.
Bemidji 75, Grand Rapids 61
GR 32 29 -- 61
BHS 23 52 -- 75
GRAND RAPIDS (4-9) -- Sutherland 28, Washington 19, Fothergill 5, Persons 5, Ellier 3, Winkels 1.
BEMIDJI (7-0) -- Jensen 20, Bieberdorf 16, Konecne 13, Wilson 9, S. Hess 6, B. Hess 5, Beberg 2, Burley 2, Peterson 2.