Despite letting a 17-point lead dwindle to three with four minutes remaining, Bemidji boys basketball closed out an 85-80 victory at Becker on Monday evening to halt a brief two-game losing slide.
The narrow victory was secured despite 13 three-pointers from the host Bulldogs, as Bemidji used solid free-throwing shooting to wrap up the win.
Trailing 10-5 early, the Lumberjacks took the lead for good with an 11-0 run fueled by forced turnovers and points in transition. Silas Hess was often at the center of the defensive end of the spectrum, but also had offense to show as well with a corner three to give Bemidji a 12-10 advantage.
The run was a good indicator of the strong offensive night ahead for Bemidji forwards Gavin Luksik and Colten Jensen. Back-to-back buckets from both forced a Becker timeout with Bemidji suddenly ahead 16-10.
Luksik continued to terrorize the Bulldogs in transition with layups later in the half, putting together two straight possessions with a make to push the lead close to double figures.
The first-half ball movement was exceptional from the Jacks, turning it over just four times while sharing freely on drives inside. Luksik and Jensen played catch later on with the former finishing inside, which was followed later by a bucket for Jensen himself as the lead swelled to 40-25 for Bemidji.
Becker finished with a small run to bring Bemidji’s halftime advantage to 45-34, and the home team further reduced the deficit early in the second half. Luksik got back to work off a poked inbound, as he finished off another opportunity inside.
At one point with under 10 minutes to play, the Bemidji lead stood at 63-47 and it looked like the final minutes would be a formality. But the Bulldogs were not finished, launching a lightning-quick 13-2 run backed by a barrage of three-pointers. Eric Seavert capped the run with another of Becker’s seven second-half makes from downtown.
Increasingly in need of an answer, Bemidji got one from Quincy Wilson, who splashed a corner triple to push the lead back to eight.
Despite three starters navigating and eventually succumbing to foul trouble, Becker made yet another push. Five straight points capped by a floater from Nick Mittelstaedt suddenly had the Bulldogs down by just three.
Turnovers were in greater supply in the second half for Bemidji as the Jacks coughed up the ball ten times, but chances to break the increasing full-court pressure of the Bulldogs created chances in the post for both Luksik and Jensen.
Late free throws from Wilson, Matt Arel, Isaiah Biehn, and Nick Snell all contributed to helping Bemidji retain its narrow lead late, culminating in one last run-out layup for Jensen.
Luksik’s 23 points led all in scoring, while Jensen had 21, Wilson provided 12 and Snell reached double figures with 10.
Bemidji improves to 14-6, and is currently ranked #2 in the Section 8AAA QRF rankings with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season. The Lumberjacks will play three of their final four games at home, starting with games against Cloquet (7:30pm) and Duluth Denfeld (1:00pm) this Friday and Saturday. Pregame both days will be 15 minutes prior to tip on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 online.
Bemidji’s JV were also 74-52 winners over Becker on Monday.
Monday night’s game was also the final game for Bemidji assistant and 9th grade coach Guy Schermerhorn after he was honored at his last home game on Saturday. Schermerhorn’s 9th grade A team won 52-37 on Monday. Kev Jackson had the chance to speak to Schermerhorn on Saturday about his new job opportunity and his time coaching at Bemidji.
Bemidji assistant Guy Schermerhorn (C) flanked by seniors (L to R) Nick Snell, Silas Hess, Colten Jensen, Colby Carlson, Ben Hess, and Quincy Wilson after his last game with Bemidji boys basketball. (Photo courtesy of Travis Peterson)
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Travis Peterson: