Trouble with turnovers and a lack of scoring punch sank #5 Bemidji to a 62-39 defeat at #4 Sartell in the quarterfinals of the Section 8AAAA girls basketball playoffs on Thursday evening at Sartell High School.
The Lumberjacks were forced to grapple with a painfully slow start on offense as they could only notch a single free throw in the game’s opening five minutes. However, their defense held Sartell in check enough to trail 8-1 when Katelyn Milbrant–who had tallied that lone point–finally got Bemidji its first field goal.
The junior followed the bucket with a three-pointer, and Clara Bieber capped off the sudden 7-0 run with a basket in the post that tied the game.
Bemidji’s momentum was quickly halted by the array of defensive looks shown by the Sabres, who used free throws and a sudden surge of outside shooting from guard Avery Templin to embark on a 17-4 run in building a 25-12 lead. The Lumberjacks found brief answers on a pair of flying drives to the basket from guard Mya Vincent.
Templin’s 15 first-half points–coupled with the Jacks’ miserable 2-of-9 showing at the free throw line and 14 turnovers–left Bemidji trailing 30-16 at halftime.
The Lumberjacks opened the second half with a cutting finish by Beth Bolte that started the scoring, and she created offense with a steal of the Sabres that led to a layup for Clara Bieber.
With the Sabres starting to string together buckets, Bemidji found a pair of much-needed threes from Brynn Peterson and Josey LaValley that helped briefly reduce the deficit.
But Sartell’s harassing defensive pressure and slick ball movement on offense quickly pushed their lead close to 20 with time running down. Vincent and Milbrandt could only provide brief responses with their respective close-range buckets.
Milbrandt and Vincent each posted eight points to lead Bemidji in scoring on a night where the Lumberjacks turned the ball over 29 times. Templin led all in scoring with a 25-point showing.
Bemidji’s season concludes with a record of 13-13, as the Lumberjacks graduate seven senior players: Sage Zetah-Cornelius, Perri Johnson, Mya Huseby, Mya Vincent, Gracee Bieber, Beth Bolte, and Brynn Peterson.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Darin Schultz: