BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School girls basketball team had one flash of red-hot offense on Saturday. The defense did the rest.
The Lumberjacks held Crookston to 47 points on the day -- while shutting them out over the final 4 minutes, 46 seconds -- to lock up a 63-47 win at the BHS Gymnasium.
“We’re going to be streaky, but it comes down to whether we can stay the course on defense,” Bemidji head coach Steve Schreiber said. “… You can’t guarantee you’re going to shoot well every game. But when we didn’t shoot well, our defense (had) stepped backwards. Today, our focus was on, if we weren’t going to shoot well, then our defense was going to step up.”
It was an apt blueprint for the day, as the Jacks (13-9) struggled to find an offensive flow for the majority of the game.
“I think in the first half, we were a little bit rushed on some things,” junior Macy Flatness said. “We just really had to get after it on defense. That was our main focus because we’ve been struggling a little bit. Our focus was on defense and settling down on offense, taking open shots.”
BHS started flat offensively, which resulted in just 13 points over the first 10 minutes. But the defense had only surrendered 11, and Lindsey Hildenbrand closed an ensuing 7-0 run with a 3-pointer that put Bemidji ahead 20-11.
The Pirates (11-10) snuck back into a 29-24 deficit by halftime. And out of the locker rooms, Crookston brought with it a 10-1 run to go ahead 32-30.
The Bemidji offense was stalling again, but then it came back with a bang.
The Lumberjacks scored 15 points on their next five possessions, the first dozen coming as an unanswered run. Macy Flatness started it with a three, which was matched by a Rumer Flatness triple. Mackenzie Nicklason followed with an and-one putback after an offensive board, and Hildenbrand drained another 3-pointer off a steal from the ensuing inbounds.
The Pirates momentarily stopped the bleeding with a bucket, but Macy Flatness piled on another three for good measure and a 45-34 lead.
“After one of us hits our shot, it’s kind of a trickle-down effect where the next person then hits their shot,” Macy Flatness said. “Everyone is comfortable after that. Once one person hits their shot, everyone else is getting in the flow and hitting their shots.”
Macy Flatness’ latter 3-pointer started a 10-1 spurt, which added up to a 22-3 extended run and 52-35 Bemidji lead.
And although Crookston closed back within seven by scoring the next eight points, the Lumberjack defense didn’t allow a point over the final 4:46.
“We talked really well on defense, and we really worked on closing out on their shooters,” Macy Flatness said. “Just talking to each other, switching on screens and doing everything that we’re supposed to do on defense really helped us.”
Macy Flatness and Hildenbrand split the team lead with 15 points each, while Katie Alto and Nicklason pitched in another 10 apiece. Rachel Hefta tallied 11 to pace the Pirates.
“It comes down to trusting that shots will fall, and then not falling back defensively when we’re not getting shots to fall,” Schreiber said of the win. “… We just have to trust in our team and trust in the process. When we do that, we look a lot better.”
Bemidji will remain at home for a 6:30 p.m. matchup against Hermantown on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Bemidji 63, Crookston 47
CHS 24 23 -- 47
BHS 29 34 -- 63
CROOKSTON (11-10) -- Hefta 11, Cwikla 9, Hay. Winjum 9, Borowicz 7, Solheim 6, Ball 2, Boyle 2, Hal. Winjum 1.
BEMIDJI (13-9) -- Hildenbrand 15, M. Flatness 15, Alto 10, Nicklason 10, R. Flatness 5, R. Jones 5, Hofstad 3.