Balanced scoring and an improved defensive outing from Tuesday’s season opener helped Bemidji boys basketball pull away for a 60-43 victory at St. Cloud Tech on Friday evening, handing new head coach Steve Thompson his first victory.
While improved defending played a pivotal role in the final outcome, Bemidji was also bolstered by three-point shooting that was sorely missed in Tuesday’s 21-point loss to Sartell-St. Stephen. After an 0-for-19 outing as a team from deep in the opener, Bemidji started a 7-0 run to open the game thanks to a long-range make from sophomore Isaac Severts.
The Lumberjacks never trailed from there, using a 15-0 run to open up a 25-8 advantage that featured a series of inside layups for players like Matt Arel and Gavin Luksik.
Luksik’s 10 points paced Bemidji to a 29-16 halftime lead, but swarming defense both on the interior and outside helped maintain the advantage. A chase-down poke and subsequent takeaway created by junior guard Sam Wilson off a turnover by the Lumberjacks was symbolic of the collective defensive effort throughout the half and game on the whole.
Wilson hit a high-arcing triple early in the second half as part of a 7-0 burst out of the locker room that ballooned Bemidji’s advantage to 20.
Tech’s most threatening surge of the game followed immediately after, as the home team strung together a rapid 12-0 run in the ensuing two minutes to force a Lumberjack timeout. Needing a run-stopper, Bemidji got it on a banked-in three from James Williams from the corner.
The surprise triple ignited a 14-3 burst that would put the game out of reach, with Isaiah Biehn turning steals into runout layups and Arel hitting another shot from beyond the arc to help cap the run.
Biehn joined Luksik for a team-best 12 points apiece, while Severts also reached doubled figures with 10. Arel and Wilson further added to the balance with nine and eight points respectively, as the Lumberjacks shook off 16 turnovers to still claim victory.
KT Norwood poured in a game-high 20 points in the losing effort for St. Cloud Tech.
The win was Bemidji coach Steve Thompson’s first since stepping into a head coaching job for the first time this past offseason after numerous years as an assistant for Bemidji’s basketball, football, and baseball programs.
The Lumberjacks improve to 1-1 with the result, and will next host the defending Section 8AAA champions St. Cloud Apollo on Thursday evening at 7:15pm. The game can be heard on KBUN Plus FM 100.1/AM 1450 and KBUN2 at kbunsportsradio.com.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Steve Thompson: