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Cass Lake-Bena boys lead Section 8-A race for the playoffs

With only a handful of games remaining in the regular season for most of the area boys basketball teams the playoff picture is beginning to take shape.

With only a handful of games remaining in the regular season for most of the area boys basketball teams the playoff picture is beginning to take shape.

Cass Lake-Bena appears to be a lock for first place in the Section 8-A East playoffs, at least according to the QRF ratings.

The Panthers entered the week with a 19-3 overall record, the top spot in the sub-section QRF standings and a 9-1 record in the Northland Conference.

Red Lake is in second place in the Northland Conference at 8-3 while Blackduck is 7-4, Nevis and Pine River-Backus 4-7, Kelliher-Northome 3-7 and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 2-8.

In the QRF, CL-B has 79.9 points and Fosston 65.8. Trailing the leaders are Red Lake (58.7), Blackduck (49.7), K-N (49), Mahnomen (45.3), WHA (34.6), Clearbrook-Gonvick (30.0), Lake of the Woods (21.6), Laporte (17.6) and Bug O Nay Ge Shig (2.5).

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Cass Lake-Bena extended its winning streak to six games last week by topping Red Lake County 67-51, Blackduck 88-61 and Fond du Lac 77-69.

"Against Red Lake County the pace of the game was slower than normal for us," said Panthers coach Brian Michaelson.

After Caleb Fisher was fouled driving to the hoop on the opening tip RLCC opted for a deliberate offensive approach, taking more than two minutes off the clock before attempting a shot.

After that possession Cass Lake-Bena decided to force the issue with a man-to-man defense and the tactic influenced the flow to CL-B's benefit.

"In the second half we were able to establish an offensive rhythm and maintain a lead against any RLCC run," Michaelson said. "Jake (Fisher) and Caleb had nice nights, both scoring 20 points.

"We also took care of the ball (only 14 turnovers) and had 44 rebounds," Michaelson added.

Against Blackduck the Panthers trailed by 12 points midway through the opening half but rallied to lead 45-33 at the break.

"We knew Blackduck wasn't going to continue to hit the 3-pointers and we knew our defense was going to tighten," Michaelson said. "We also re-focused our offense on what works - pounding the ball low."

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Fisher finished with 29 points, seven assists, seven steals and eight rebounds. Jordan Collins had 10 points and Ellis 18.

CL-B hosts Goodridge-Grygla Tuesday and Kelliher-Northome on Thursday. Friday finds the Panthers at WHA and the regular season will end Saturday at Northland CC against Sacred Heart.

K-N is 12-9 after winning two of three games last week. The Mustangs nipped Bigfork 69-67, lost 75-74 in overtime to Littlefork-BF and thumped Greenway-Coleraine 69-49.

The Mustangs entertain Nevis Tuesday and visit CL-B Thursday.

Red Lake also went 2-1 last week, tripping WHA 89-79, losing 85-71 to Pine River and defeating Minnesota Transitions 73-61.

The Warriors end their regular season with a pair of home games, hosting BGMR Saturday and Blackduck on Feb. 28.

Blackduck will visit Fosston Tuesday and Clearbrook-Gonvick on Thursday. The Drakes are 13-9 after defeating Lake of the Woods 70-32, losing to CL-B 88-61 and edging Nevis 53-47.

Bagley extended its winning streak to seven last week with a 96-40 pasting of Lake Park-Audubon and an 89-54 win over C-G.

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The Flyers host WHA Tuesday and Roseau Thursday.

Girls basketball

Kelliher-Northome ended its regular season 12-10 and, judging by the QRF ratings, should be seeded third in the Section 8A East playoffs.

Clearbrook-Gonvick has 72.2 QRF points and leads the pack while RLCC is second with 70.1 and K-N third with 43.9). Red Lake is fifth in the section's QRF (40.6) while CL-B is seventh (34.7), Blackduck ninth (25.3) and Laporte 10th (18.8).

K-N closed its regular season with an 84-78 loss to Red Lake and a 66-55 win over CL-B.

Kelly Heck had 29 points and Katey Lutz 24 against Red Lake. The Red Lake contest featured 15 baskets from 3-point land.

"Red Lake was able to hit a few clutch 3-pointers late in the game to take the lead and hold onto it," said K-N coach Justin Lundin.

"Against Cass Lake-Bena Danielle Nistler stepped up her game dropping in a season-high 14 points. With Carrie Carrigan out with an injury Katey (Lutz) stepped up in rebounding and pulled down a season high 23 rebounds to go along with her 20 points.

Heck added 17 points and Shelene Head nine.

Blackduck ends its regular season Tuesday at Fosston. The Drakes are 3-18 after losing 47-42 to CL-B and 63-26 to Nevis.

Cass Lake-Bena also blitzed Fond du Lac 108-16 to improve to 8-17. The Panthers end their regular season Friday at WHA.

Laporte is 1-19 after losing 64-34 to WHA and 61-12 to Pine River. The Wildcats host Clearbrook-Gonvick Thursday and Verndale Friday.

Red Lake will take a 10-9 record into the post-season after tripping Minnesota Transitions 64-49 and K-N 84-78.

Bagley ended its regular season Monday at East Grand Forks. The Flyers were 12-13 after wins last week over Lake Park-Audubon (57-46) and Park Rapids (69-14) and a loss to Warroad (50-49).

Wrestling, hockey

Blackduck-Cass Lake-Bena was seeded third in the Section 8A wrestling team tournament but the Bears fell in the quarterfinals 33-31 to Dillworth-Glyndon-Felton.

Badger-Greenbush-Middle River, the tournament's second seed, defeated top-ranked Frazee 37-30 for the championship.

Fosston-Bagley was seeded No. 7 in Section 8-2A and stopped Roseau 46-25 in its opener. The Greyhounds, however, fell 46-21 to Pequot Lakes in the quarterfinals.

Top-ranked Perham breezed to the title, stopping Pequot Lakes 40-19 in the championship match.

The individual tournaments are this weekend.

In 8A boys hockey, Bagley-Fosston will battle Red Lake Falls in Tuesday's play-in game at Red Lake Falls. The Flyers are seeded No. 10 and RLF is ranked seventh.

Thief River Falls is the top seed, East Grand Forks is second, Warroad third and Crookston fourth.

Park Rapids owns the fifth seed while Detroit Lakes is sixth, Lake of the Woods eighth and Kittson Central ninth.

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It was another perfect Sunday with clear skies and comfortable temperatures on Garfield Lake. Thirty-three racers and crews filled the pits, and the oval track was surrounded by hundreds of fans.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.