by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Rogers Royals were not at their best but held off Bemidji 53-45 in the first round of Section 8AAAA at home Tuesday evening.
Against a team they beat 66-31 in December, the second-seeded Royals (17-9) trailed 41-40 with seven minutes left before edging ahead of the seventh-seeded Lumberjacks (8-18).
“We called a time out and said we have to start moving the ball and get open shots,” said coach Karlee Anderson, “and stop the ball defensively, pressure the ball.”
Rogers was up 48-44 when Bemidji had to start fouling and the Royals pulled away at the free throw line where they were 8-for-12.
Lindsey Dorr sank 12 points, Shelby Darr and Kelsey Frain eight each and Courtney McClay seven for the Royals, whose bright spot was getting seven 3-pointers, from five different players.
Jess Yost, a thousand-pointer, scored 11 for Bemidji, with Casey Palmer adding 10 and Kelsey Olson 9.
Rogers earned a section semifinal rematch with Elk River (15-12) at St. Cloud State on Saturday at 8 p.m. The Royals lost to the Elks 58-51 in the River Battle in December. The District 728 siblings have met every year just before Christmas but this will be the first time they’ve clashed in a section game.
“We are excited to be playing anybody,” said Anderson, “and especially excited to play Elk River. But we can’t play like we did tonight and expect to beat them.”
In other 8AAAA games, top-seeded St. Michael-Albertville beat No. 8 Brainerd 65-31, No. 3 Elk River ousted No. 6 Moorhead 68-44, and No. 4 St. Cloud Tech stopped No. 5 Buffalo 59-44.
On Saturday, STMA (21-5) takes on Tech (17-10) at 6 p.m., followed by the Elks vs. Royals. The finals will be the following Friday at St. John’s.