For the second-straight season, Bemidji boys basketball was edged by Fergus Falls in overtime, losing 67-62 on Saturday afternoon at the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse for its second loss in a row on home floor.
After losing by one in a double-overtime classic on the road last season, this time it was only one extra frame that settled it for Bemidji. After leading by as many as eight in the second half and by three with less than a minute remaining, three chances to win just before the buzzer went begging for the Jacks.
After falling behind 7-2 in the opening four minutes of the first half, Bemidji got a 6-0 run rolling thanks to a corner three from Silas Hess.
One of the key challenges of the game for the home team was dealing with the Otters’ 6-foot-11-inch center Chance Fazio. However, Colten Jensen still found success on the baseline, driving past Fazio for a finish as Bemidji kept a narrow first-half lead.
Fazio then left Gavin Luksik some space beyond the three-point line, giving the forward a chance to drop in a three.
The Otters’ center was able to convert a late inbound into a layup to trim Bemidji’s lead to 27-24 at the halftime break. However, back-to-back buckets from Luksik and Jensen early in the second half helped Bemidji build a 34-26 advantage.
A game-changing 14-2 run from Fergus Falls followed, aided by outside shooting and a foul-plus-technical foul on Bemidji guard Ben Hess that would sideline the senior for much of the second half. A three from Cody Norgen capped the run, to which Colten Jensen responded with a basket through contact at the other end.
Nick Snell found the mark with a three-pointer not long after as Bemidji answered back with an 11-3 run and retook the lead.
Trailing 47-43, the Otters again put together a run, this time an 8-0 spurt to go up by four with less than four minutes to play in regulation. Luksik maneuvered away from Fazio inside to get Bemidji back within a possession.
Cutting across the lane, Silas Hess hit on a tough shot to put Bemidji back up by two with time dwindling down.
A pair of free throws from Jensen–in the midst of a 13-point second half from him–helped Bemidji go up 55-52 as time ticked under a minute to play. But Fergus Falls’ Brock Kotschevar had a huge reply, nailing a three from the right wing to tie the game on his only field goal of the afternoon.
After Quincy Wilson, Jensen, and Luksik–in order–failed to convert opportunities on the final possession, overtime beckoned once again. Dominic Aguilar, who scored all 18 of his points in the second half and overtime for the Otters, splashed a three to start the extra frame scoring. Despite a bucket from Jensen to answer, Aguilar would later make amends for a free-throw miss by getting inside for a layup to make it 60-57.
Free throws became the method of scoring for both teams in the final 90 seconds of overtime, with the Otters able to build a slim advantage and keep Bemidji from converting from the field at the other end.
Jensen’s 23 points were a game-high, while Silas Hess provided 12 and Wilson and Luksik each posted 11. In addition to Aguilar’s 18 for the Otters, Fazio dropped in 16 and Ethan Olson scored 15.
The loss marks just the second time this season Bemidji has lost consecutive games, as the Lumberjacks fall to 13-6. They will next travel south to Becker for a early Monday evening game at 5:00pm. Pregame will be at 4:45 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 online.
Alongside today’s game, the boys basketball program took time to acknowledge assistant and 9th grade coach Guy Schermerhorn, who was coaching his final home games for Bemidji. After Monday’s game at Becker, Schermerhorn will be taking a new job within the community that will require him to step away from coaching. He had been an assistant since 2015, joining the boys basketball staff the same season Travis Peterson was named head coach. Schermerhorn coached both the Section-title winning Class of 2019 and this year’s Class of 2020 as freshmen, with the latter winning the state Pacesetter championship under his tutelage.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Travis Peterson: