Bemidji boys basketball wiped out a 14-point first-half deficit before halftime, then pulled away down the stretch to emerge with a 14-point victory in a 64-50 result against visiting Sartell in the 2022-23 season opener on Friday at the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse.
The Jacks struggled with scoring for much of the opening 10 minutes but were supplied by an early spark from Ethan Biehn, who scored their first bucket of the new season on a wing three-pointer.
With the game tied at seven, Sartell exploded for a 14-0 run over a span of seven minutes that featured multiple makes from beyond the arc.
Dan Clusiau’s active defense at midcourt created a steal and easy layup to finally end the cold spell for the Lumberjacks.
The steal and score ignited an 11-0 run for the Lumberjacks that drew them within 21-18. Among the contributors to the scoring stretch, Matthew Matheney came off the bench to hit a three-pointer that set the stage for later contributions that he would offer.
With Brady Husman’s fourth three-pointer of the first half, Sartell took a 30-22 lead with under two minutes to play until halftime. In rapid time, the Lumberjacks answered with three pointers on consecutive possessions by Isaac Severts, freshman Jaxon Boschee, and Matheney to suddenly lead 31-30 going into the break.
Ethan Biehn capped off the 11-0 run early in the second half with a tough jumper from the midrange.
Another Matheney three not long after was followed by a steal and finish from Biehn that helped the Lumberjacks open up a 38-32 advantage in the early minutes of the second half.
Transition points continued to go a long way toward helping the Jacks maintain the advantage. Severts used one such takeaway to follow one layup with another in transition.
The Sabres slimmed the gap to 44-42 and soon after benefitted from an offensive foul on Severts that left Bemidji’s sideline and fans in disbelief. Clusiau promptly picked another ball handler’s pocket at the halfway line and raced the other way for an easy lay-in.
Despite a slow start shooting from the field, Severts had the final punctuation for the Lumberjacks in fueling a 20-4 run that began when the Sabres had closed the gap to two with nine minutes to play. The senior forward drilled a three from the perimeter to put the lead in double figures, then finished another fast break by dealing to Dawson Lish for a simple layup that grew the lead to 56-44.
The final exclamation in the final minutes was delivered by Severts after a steal with a trademark slam dunk with two hands that brought down the house.
Severts ended with a game-high 20 points, while Biehn provided 16. The Lumberjacks held Sartell to just 20 second-half points and turned the Sabres over 21 times.
Bemidji will next travel to Brainerd for another Section 8AAAA matchup on Tuesday at 7:15pm.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Steve Thompson: