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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Jackie Johnson ties Bemidji scoring record with 40 points in win

Jackie Johnson tied the Bemidji High School girls basketball program’s single-game scoring record of 40 points and carried the Lumberjacks to a 69-62 win in Detroit Lakes.

121821.S.BP.BHSGBB Jackie Johnson.JPG
Bemidji senior Jackie Johnson (13) dribbles with the ball during a game at Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. Johnson tied the program's single-game scoring record with 40 points in the win. (Jared Rubado / Forum News Service)
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DETROIT LAKES -- With 40 points as proof, Jackie Johnson had a game for the ages on Tuesday night.

The Bemidji High School girls basketball senior caught fire in Detroit Lakes, tying the program’s single-game scoring record and carrying the Lumberjacks to a 69-62 win against the Lakers.

“I was really confident,” said Johnson, who scored 23 points in the final 10:12. “It was great to have the whole team confident in me. They were really building me up.”

Johnson matched the program’s record of 40 points, a mark that Kayla Hirt reached twice in 2010. Johnson duplicated it with two 3-pointers, seven shots inside the arc and a 20-for-24 performance at the free-throw line.

“Kayla Hirt was definitely a great player,” Johnson said, “and it’s great to be right up there with her.”

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Such a feat may shock the average fan, but it doesn’t surprise Johnson’s coaches.

“We’ve seen her do it in summer league games. She had a couple big JV games like that,” BHS head coach Steve Schreiber said. “We were just waiting for that moment for her to flip the switch and show that she could carry a team.

“That’s the player we see in practice. That’s the player I’ve seen in her since she was little, since she was a seventh-grader.”

The game itself wasn’t for the faint of heart. Detroit Lakes led 27-23 at the half -- with Johnson sitting at 11 points. Bemidji finally grabbed its first lead since the opening minutes when Katelyn Milbrandt’s layup gave the Jacks a 37-35 lead with 11 minutes to go.

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Bemidji senior Jody Pemberton (12) makes a pass during a games against Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in DL. (Jared Rubado / Forum News Service)

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Johnson hit the team’s first three with 10 minutes remaining, and she started to light it up for a 55-45 lead with another 11 points in a four-minute span.

With 26 seconds still sitting on the clock, Detroit Lakes rallied and came within three. But Johnson iced the game at the charity stripe, including points 39 and 40 with 11.3 seconds remaining to seal the deal.

“The coaches really wanted me to look to score at the hoop more,” Johnson said. “Defenses are going to get a lot tighter, especially now. I’m not going to get as many chances to shoot threes, so I’ve got to figure out ways to score other than threes. And I also have to look for my teammates when I drive and the help comes.”

Although 40 is a mighty milestone in itself, it wasn’t the one on Johnson’s mind. In fact, she didn’t even know she had tied the school record until well after the game.

“Last week in Zimmerman, I beat my dad’s career high, which is 24,” Johnson said of her 28-point performance. “And Schreiber told me that his was next, and it’s 36. So when I made my free throw to get to 37, I looked at him and I just smiled.”

But the record wasn’t the only satisfying thing about the night. Earning a hard-fought win made the performance that much sweeter.

“Detroit Lakes is always a hard team to beat,” Johnson said. “Especially in their gym, it’s even harder. It feels great to win, especially in that gym.”

Bemidji improved to 2-2 with the win. The Lumberjacks return to action at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at St. Anthony Village.

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Bemidji 69, Detroit Lakes 62

BHS 23 46 -- 69

DL 37 25 -- 62

BEMIDJI (2-2) -- Johnson 40, Bolte 8, Milbrandt 8, Hildenbrand 6, Pemberton 5, M. Bieber 2.

DETROIT LAKES (1-1) -- Hendrickson 16, Larson 12, Bettcher 11, Gunderson 11, Okeson 8, Daggett 2, Mace 2.

121821.S.BP.BHSGBB Jody Pemberton.JPG
Bemidji senior Jody Pemberton (12) makes a pass during a games against Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in DL. (Jared Rubado / Forum News Service)

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and 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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