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Johnson, Bemidji spoils Detroit Lakes girls basketball finale at Ralph Anderson gym

Jackie Johnson tied the Bemidji school record with 40 points on Tuesday night in the final girls basketball game at the Ralph Anderson Gym.

1 Jacee Hauser AD7C5455.JPG
Jacee Hauser throws up a put-back layup on Dec. 14, 2021 in the Detroit Lakes' 69-62 loss against Bemidji at Ralph Anderson Gym. Hauser had 14 points for the Lakers in the loss. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Tuesday night was supposed to be a celebration for the Detroit Lakes girls basketball as they said goodbye to the Ralph Anderson Gym. It quickly turned into the Jackie Johnson show as the senior guard tied the Bemidji school record for points in a single game.

Johnson's total of 40 points in Bemidji's (2-2) 69-62 win over the Lakers (1-1) tied Kayla Hirt's high school career-high from 2010. Hirt went on to play at the University of Minnesota.

"It was great," Johnson said. "Last week in Zimmerman, I beat my dad's career-high, which is 24. And (Bemidji head coach Stephen) Schreiber told me that his was next, and it's 36. So when I made my free throw to get to 37, I looked at him and I just smiled."

Johnson's 37th point came at a crucial point on Tuesday night as the Lakers were on the cusp of an early-season comeback. Trailing by 12 points with under three minutes remaining, Detroit Lakes went on a run. Jacee Hauser hit a three-pointer for her team-leading 16th point with just under two minutes left before sophomores Elle Bettcher and Grace Gunderson closed the gap to within three points.

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"Those young girls stepped up and are filling in their roles great," Detroit Lakes head coach Rachel Johnson said. "They still make some mistakes, but they are learning quickly, asking great questions, and are very coachable. I appreciate when they're out there on this big stage. When we move into the new gym, it'll be even bigger… They have high expectations of themselves, which helps us tremendously because they want to learn as much and as quickly as they can."

The Lakers were in foul trouble early in the second half, which meant Bemidji was in the double bonus every time a Lumberjack was intentionally sent to the free-throw line. Despite a late push, the mountain was too steep for the Detroit Lakes to climb.

Johnson put the cherry on top of her impressive night with a pair of free throws to ice the game. She scored 19 of her 40 points from the charity stripe.

"This whole week, we based our defense around Jackie Johnson," Hauser said. "We knew coming in that she's a really good player. We were face-guarding her, and I thought it worked well for a bit. You just can't guard her. She's unstoppable, I felt like. We all knew she was going to drop a lot of points. We were hoping to keep it around 20 points. But once she gets in her groove, you can't stop her."

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Karlee Mace dishes a pass to the corner during Detroit Lakes' 69-62 loss to Bemidji on Dec. 14, 2021 at Ralph Anderson Gym. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The first half was all Detroit Lakes. The Lakers jumped out to an 11-point lead midway through the first half before Bemidji made some defensive adjustments.

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"They switched to that zone, which our girls adapted to really quick and picked up on," Johnson said. "We didn't move through their offense as best as we have been. We made some adjustments that worked, but Bemidji did a good job of flipping back and forth to change the pace a little bit."

In the final minutes before halftime, the Lumberjacks went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to four points. Katelyn Milbrandt's layup with 10:57 left in the game gave Bemidji its first lead since Elizabeth Bolte scored the game's first points.

"The turning point was definitely in the second half when we hit that lull," Johnson said. "Bemidji took the momentum back at that point. During that timeout I took, I told the girls, 'It's pretty dead in here, and that comes down to your energy and the bench's energy.' We've got to be the jumpstart for those fans to get our momentum back. We talk a lot about setting the pace and setting tone. When that gets flipped, it doesn't work out well to our advantage."

Hauser's 16-points were a season-high for her after a frustrating opener against Little Falls. On Dec. 4, the junior captain found herself in foul trouble early on as her teammates carried the load to a 65-15 win. After 10 days, Hauser was happy to get back into a rhythm.

1 Ella Okeson AD7C5637.JPG
Ella Okeson shoots from three-point range in the first half of Detroit Lakes' 69-62 loss against Bemidji on Dec. 14, 2021. Okeson had eight points off the bench for the Lakers. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"For me personally, I did not play as I wanted against Little Falls," Hauser said. "This whole 10 days, I was sitting there saying, 'I need to get focused.' That wasn't me (against Little Falls). I need to stay out of foul trouble… These 10 days all I could think about was beating Bemidji. They're one of the main teams we want to beat during the season."

Tuesday's loss for Detroit Lakes boils down to a tough night shooting from the field. Once Bemidji took the lead midway through the second half, the Lakers couldn't get over the hump.

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"I don't know what it was, but I'm sure it wasn't great," Johnson said of the Lakers' shooting percentage. "We have to work on getting shots up and hope that next time around it goes way better. We definitely had a chance to shut them down in the first half if we made all of those shots that we missed. We had all of the shots we wanted. It just comes down to making them next time."

Tuesday was the last time the Detroit Lakes girls basketball team played a game at the Ralph Anderson Gym. With the Lakeshirts Fieldhouse set to open on Jan. 4 for a Detroit Lakes doubleheader, the Lakers took in one last time under the familiar lights.

"We're super excited," Hauser said of the new gym opening. "We've been secretly peaking in there. We are really excited to get in there. I would've liked to have had our last game in this gym as a win. But after how much effort we just put in, I think it was a really good note to end on."

1 Grace Gunderson AD7C5599.JPG
Grace Gunderson lofts a floater in the first half of Detroit Lakes' 69-62 loss against Bemidji on Dec. 14, 2021. Gunderson had 13 points as the Lakers' fell to 1-1 on the season. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

BEMIDJI 23 46 - 69

DETROIT LAKES 27 35 - 62

SCORING- DETROIT LAKES- Jacee Hauser 16, Abby Larson 12, Elle Bettcher 11, Grace Gunderson 11, Ella Okeson 8, Karlee Mace 2, Helena Daggett 2; BEMIDJI- Jackie Johnson 40, Elizabeth Bolte 8, Katelyn Milbrandt 8, Kate Hildebrandt 6, Marlee Bieber 11, Jody Pemberton 5

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
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