GIRLS BASKETBALL: Gracee Bieber’s ‘A-game’ powers Jacks to big win over Bluejackets
Gracee Bieber converted from all over the floor, combining an array of post moves with sweet shooting from the outside to score 27 points and power BHS to a 74-40 win over the visiting Bluejackets.
BEMIDJI -- Gracee Bieber would not let herself be fatigued on Saturday at the BHS Gymnasium.
As the Bemidji High School girls basketball team faced Hibbing at its second home game in three days, the Lumberjacks had to shake off any lethargy associated with an early 1 p.m. start. That wasn’t a problem for Bieber, though.
The senior forward scored from all over the floor, combining an array of post moves with sweet shooting from the outside to score 27 points and power BHS to a 74-40 win over the visiting Bluejackets.
“Usually last year when I had these (early) games, I was tired,” Bieber said. “I was like, ‘No, I'm not going to be tired this game. I'm going to have energy and go for it, play my heart out.’”
She put in a full effort on Saturday, scoring around the basket with a variety of hook shots and layups while also stepping out beyond the 3-point arc and converting two triples.
“Every single game, not everyone's going to be on their A-game. Tonight, Gracee was phenomenal,” said BHS head coach Darin Schultz. “She was on her best game. Twenty-seven points, unbelievable night. But that doesn't happen every single night. So to have hopefully different people show up on different nights to help us continue to get better and continue to get in the win column is really big.”
The victory provided validation for the Jacks after their performance on Thursday against Duluth East, which Schultz called their “best game of the season” despite a close loss to the Greyhounds. Wins typically feel better, though, and this one helped Bemidji build confidence that what it’s doing is working.
“It's just nice to be playing good basketball at the right time of the season,” Schultz said. “Our goal is to try to continue to build and get better throughout the season, so we're ready come playoff time. The last three games have really shown that we're getting there. We're improving every single day, and I love the effort and the overall team win.”
Bieber had added motivation to show out on Saturday, as her cousins attended the contest. But whatever her ultimate source of vitality was, it all came together in the Lumberjacks’ dominant showing.
“It feels great after having a tough game (on Thursday),” Bieber said. “We had practice the next day and then the next day we had a game, and we were able to thrive through that and take a W. … You’ve just got to know that every game could be your last game. You’ve got to push hard every game and play your heart out, and know that you're playing for your team, your family, your community.”
As the section playoffs start to appear on the horizon, Schultz is looking for continued growth up and down his roster. With precious few weeks remaining in the regular season, now is an ideal time for Bemidji to find its form.
“Basketball season is such a long season, and we still have a quarter of it left,” Schultz said. “To be able to be playing our best basketball right now is only going to benefit us come playoff time when we start playing some of those Elk Rivers and Rogers and bigger teams in the Cities. We want to be at our best (for that), and we're almost there.”
BHS returns to the court against Detroit Lakes at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in DL.
Bemidji 74, Hibbing 40
HIB 26 14 -- 40
BHS 41 33 -- 74
HIBBING -- Kivela 10, Toewe 9, Davis 5, Forbord 5, Anderson 4, Carlson 4, Aune 3.
BEMIDJI -- G. Bieber 27, Bolte 14, C. Bieber 7, Milbrandt 7, Vincent 6, Lish 5, LaValley 4, Huseby 3, Corradi 1.