It was a struggle for points when the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks and the Bemidji Lumberjacks squared off in boys basketball at the Grand Rapids High School Gymnasium on Tuesday evening.
The Lumberjacks were able to outscore the host Thunderhawks, 48-42, in picking up the road win in a game that was a struggle for both team's.
“It was a real frustrating loss. It seemed that we couldn’t get any flow offensively. I feel bad for our guys. They played hard and they are good shooters,” Grand Rapids head coach Dan Elhard said. “We are just squeezing a little tight right now and not letting go easy. We will come back. I told the guys ‘we are about half way through the season and there is a lot of season left and a whole lot of opportunities to get better.’”
The Thunderhawks struggled inside on the boards throughout the night as Bemidji was able to take advantage out rebounding Grand Rapids for most of the evening.
Bemidji received a strong game from 6'7" center Doug Bender. Bender was the only Lumberjack to finish in double figures as he recorded 17 points and had a strong game inside controlling the glass.
“He’s (Bender) tough and I thought Matt Sjostrand was a warrior inside tonight for us. That’s another thing, we need to find some guys that want to rebound and take pride in rebounding,” Elhard said. “I was very disappointed with our rebounding effort from guys that need to be strong for us particularly the power forward and the strong forward positions.”
Both teams played strong defense in the contest limiting each other’s chances throughout the game.
“I liked our energy on the defensive end. We did some good things and I thought we protected the paint a lot better tonight than we have in some other games,” Elhard said. “It’s hard to keep playing defense all the time when you are struggling on the offensive end. You need to get some good feelings going and we couldn’t get it tonight.”
The Thunderhawks had three players finish in double figures with Matt Sjostrand leading the way with 12 points before fouling out in the final minutes of the second half.
Michael Johnson finished with 11 points and Eric Stark added 10 points including the only two Thunderhawk three-pointers in the game.
The Lumberjacks staked themselves to early leads twice in the first half only to see the Thunderhawks come roaring back with a nice run to eventually cut the lead down or tie the game. Eric Stark cut the lead to three points at half with a nice jumper to make it 21-18.
The Thunderhawks started strong in the second half tying the game up after two baskets by Matt Sjostrand and a free throw by Jared Anderson. However, Bemidji would regain a small cushion at 30-24 after a three-pointer by Ryan Linder.
Grand Rapids countered with a 6-0 run with two baskets by Johnson and one by Sjostrand to cut the Bemidji lead to one point at 32-31. The Thunderhawks added to that with a basket by Colt Anderson and Grand Rapids had its first lead since early in the contest.
Bemidji regained the lead and a three-pointer by Stark eventually tied the game for Grand Rapids at 38. Grand Rapids grabbed its final lead at 40-38 after a shot by Sjostrand, however, Bemidji would score eight of the final 12 points to pick up the win.
Foul trouble late in the game hurt the Thunderhawks as Jared Sutherland and Matt Sjostrand fouled out of the game in the second half.
Bender was the game's leading scorer for Bemidji with 17 points. Ryan Telander added eight points with two three-pointers. Drew Baker finished with seven points. Czar Woods and Simon Anderson added five points each. Tanner Baker finished with four points. Joe Kingery finished with two points.
The Thunderhawks had three in double figures with Sjostrand leading the way before fouling out with 12 points.
Johnson finished with 11 points and Stark added 10 points with two three-pointers. Jared Anderson finished with three points while Colt Anderson, Chris Trboyevich and Sutherland finished with two points each.
The Thunderhawks fall to 4-9 overall on the season and will travel to the road on Friday, Jan. 25 for a 7:30 contest with the Duluth East Greyhounds in Duluth.
The Thunderhawks suffered a tough 74-58 loss on Friday evening in Thief River Falls to the Prowlers. The Thunderhawks struggled throughout the game getting outscored 39-29 in the first half and 35-29 in the second half.
The Prowlers were led by Chase Haviland's 20 points. Brady Harbott finished the game with 19 points and Kasey Trontvet added 12 points. Jacob Stuckey finished with 10 points in the win for the Prowlers. Andrew Ronk added seven points while Josh Watne added four points. Nick Beito finished with two points for the Prowlers.
Sjostrand led the way for Grand Rapids with 16 points. Sutherland and Trboyevich finished with 10 points each while Johnson and Colt Anderson added eight points each. Dan Wilde finished with four points while Matt Leslie added one point in the loss.