A 17-1 scoring stretch for Alexandria broke open a close game in the first half, as Bemidji girls basketball fell behind on its way to a 60-39 loss in a key matchup for future Section 8AAA seeding Monday evening at the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse.
The game’s crucial run followed a tight exchange in the opening minutes between the two teams, which was filled with a mix of turnovers and perimeter shooting. Taylor Wade put Bemidji ahead 8-5 with about 12 minutes to play in the opening half on a wing three.
That was the last field goal Bemidji would make for 10 minutes, as the Cardinals slowly began to get their offense going while bottling up the Lumberjacks on defense. After edging in front, the visitors stretched the lead out to 22-9, thanks in part to a personal 7-0 run provided by senior Summer Gerhardt off the bench.
A jumper from Ashley Hofstad with two minutes remaining in the first finally ended the run, but Bemidji found itself down 27-12 with under a minute until halftime. Incredibly, Emily Wade came up with a steal with just seconds remaining and sank a running three-pointer as time expired that the officials counted before the buzzer and confirmed as beyond the arc.
The three trimmed Alexandria’s lead to 27-15 at the break, despite a first half where Bemidji was just 4-13 from the free throw line and made only four field goals. The Lumberjacks started the second half continuing to get good scoring out of Taylor Wade, both from the midrange and in the post.
Balanced scoring allowed Alexandria to push the lead beyond 20 as the half wore on, though Lindsey Hildenbrand started finding her range from the field to help trim it down on several occasions.
Hildenbrand scored 10 of her team-high 11 points in the second half. Taylor Wade posted nine and Ashley Hofstad chipped in seven for the Lumberjacks.
Four Cardinals finished the game scoring in double figures, led by Gerhardt’s 13 points. Ella Grove added 11, while Mia McGrane and Mataya Hoelscher each had 10.
The victory secures the QRF tiebreaker for Alexandria over Bemidji, as the game was the lone regular-season meeting between the two teams. The Jacks’ QRF score had briefly surpassed Alex’s in the QRF rankings for Section 8AAA prior to the game, but Bemidji would now have to both finish ahead of the Cardinals in QRF score and do so beyond the final tiebreaker margin to be the top seed in the section playoffs.
The loss ended a four-game winning run for Bemidji, which slips to 12-5 ahead of Thursday’s home game against Duluth East. Gametime is 6:30 with pregame at 6:15 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 online.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Steve Schreiber: