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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Offense stalls out on Bemidji in 49-36 loss to Storm

Bemidji struggled to produce points all night on Thursday, plagued by two extended dry spells that bookended a 49-36 loss to Sauk Rapids-Rice at the BHS Gymnasium.

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Bemidji senior Gracee Bieber (24) drives to the rim during the second half against Sauk Rapids-Rice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- The irony of a scoring drought is that when it rains, it pours.

The Bemidji High School girls basketball team struggled to produce points all night on Thursday, plagued by two extended dry spells that bookended a 49-36 loss to Sauk Rapids-Rice at the BHS Gymnasium.

“It’s tough from a mental perspective when shots aren’t going in, and you start to have a little doubt. And then we start passing up shots that are open,” Bemidji head coach Darin Schultz said. “From a coaching standpoint, we’ve got to find a better way, when we’re in these droughts, to get ourselves a great look to get out of that slump.”

The Jacks didn’t score in the first four minutes of the game, and their first field goal didn’t come until 8:55 was off the clock. Then in the second half, while scratching and clawing with a real shot at a comeback, BHS didn’t muster a point over the final four minutes.

“(The Storm) have two girls who are over six feet,” Schultz said. “We don’t see very many girls who are 6-foot-2, let alone two of them. I think mentally, our girls would drive in and rush some shots. … We had some great looks, but it was one of those nights where we struggled putting the ball in the basket.”

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Bemidji freshman Clara Bieber (15) drives baseline during the second half against Sauk Rapids-Rice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji (5-6) made just three field goals in the first half. Gracee Bieber’s 3-pointer nine minutes into the game -- which finally ended the drought -- was long overdue. From there, Clara Bieber added another three and Katey Milbrandt put in a fast-break layup, but nothing else was so easy for the Jacks.

That trend started to change a bit after halftime, which saw BHS behind 23-16. Sauk Rapids-Rice (5-5) built a seemingly decisive 38-23 lead with 10 minutes to go, yet Bemidji marched right back into things with its best stretch of the night.

After a Clara Bieber 3-pointer, Mya Vincent reinvigorated the Lumberjacks’ spirits with seven straight points. The 10-0 run brought the score back to 38-33 with 6:46 remaining and gave BHS the confidence to match.

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Bemidji senior Mya Vincent (31) defends the ball during the second half against Sauk Rapids-Rice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

“Mya is a really special basketball player,” Schultz said. “Her ability to get to the rim and her quickness, it gives our team a huge jolt. Especially when baskets aren’t going in, she’s able to push the ball, attack and score, and then we’re able to get into a press and create some havoc. Everybody, including the fans, fed off that.”

Beth Bolte’s ensuing 3-pointer, which danced around the rim before heartlessly rattling out, would have brought the house down. But it instead served as another cold reminder that the rim was unforgiving and unwavering.

Bolte’s and-one layup shortly thereafter still kept the game within 42-36 with four minutes left, but Bemidji never scored again.

“If we can hold a team under 50 points, we’re going to give ourselves every chance to win a game. Even though we weren’t making shots tonight, we were still in it,” Schultz said. “To be honest, I take a lot of heat for what happened tonight because we need to find a way offensively to put our girls in better positions to find easier shots. … That’s something that we, as coaches, are going to go back to the drawing board and try to improve on.”

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The BHS student section does its "Alligator" chant during a game against Sauk Rapids-Rice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Vincent tallied 11 points to lead the Lumberjacks, while Gracee Bieber and Milbrandt chipped in eight apiece.

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Courtney Paulsen (12 points), Grace Roesch (10) and Mia Rogholt (10) all hit double-digits for the Storm.

Bemidji returns home to host Detroit Lakes at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the BHS Gymnasium.

Sauk Rapids-Rice 49, Bemidji 36

SRR 23 26 -- 49

BHS 16 20 -- 36

SAUK RAPIDS-RICE -- Paulsen 12, Roesch 10, Rogholt 10, Petermeier 5, Schloe 5, Mohs 3, Jevne 2, Morford 2.

BEMIDJI -- Vincent 11, G. Bieber 8, Milbrandt 8, C. Bieber 6, Bolte 3.

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The Lumberjacks cheer for their teammates during the second half against Sauk Rapids-Rice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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