#5 Bemidji finished the final six minutes on a 14-1 run and kept #4 Elk River without a field goal over the last eight minutes to pull away for an impressive 64-49 victory in the Section 8AAAA boys basketball quarterfinals on Tuesday evening at Elk River High School.
The win was Bemidji’s first in the postseason since 2020, and its first in Section 8AAAA since their run to the championship game in 2012–a stretch that started with a 67-64 victory at Elk River in the quarterfinals. Seeking to upend the Elks in the postseason again after losing 67-63 at home on Jan. 14, Bemidji trailed by six early with the hosts connecting early and often from three-point range.
The Jacks started to answer back with a three from Dawson Lish that supplemented Isaac Severts’ early scoring.
Back in the lineup for a second-straight game after missing time for what was feared to be a season-ending injury, Dan Clusiau made his presence felt at both ends of the floor by adding to his defensive work on Elks guard Cade Osterman with a midrange jumper on offense.
Bemidji trailed 18-12 after another small flurry from Elk River, but responded against full court pressure with an open triple by Lish that cut the lead in half.
Severts continued the scoring surge with a three of his own, and Braden Luksik’s putback layup suddenly put Bemidji on top to cap off an 8-0 run.
Both teams dug in on defense in the late minutes of the first half with makes suddenly drying up from the field. Clusiau was still able to knock down a difficult pull-up jumper, but later committed a costly third foul in transition on offense that sidelined him for the final four minutes.
Bemidji trailed 26-23 heading into the final minute of the first, but brought its scoring drought to an end with a massive corner three from Matt Matheney.
An Osterman triple fell short in the final seconds before the buzzer and Owen Van Drehle’s putback was waved off after the officials initially counted the basket, leaving the teams even at 26 at the half.
Elk River again nudged in front early in the second half, but the Jacks found more opportunities to get runout layups in transition off steals and rebounds–including a quick pass from Quinten Yeung to spring Ethan Biehn for a bucket.
Yet again, Matheney was at the center of a game-changing shot when his corner three rained in to give the Lumberjacks the lead again at 38-37.
The Jacks again worked quickly in transition when Severts found Lish cutting to the basket for another lay-in.
Matheney knocked down his third triple of the night moments later to open up a 43-39 lead.
Tasked with containing the dangerous Osterman while Clusiau battled against foul trouble, Lish still continued to make his presence felt on offense with a crafty basket in the low post
Osterman responded with a pull-up triple on the ensuing Elks possession, but that would be the hosts’ final made field goal of the night. Bemidji closed out the final eight minutes allowing just three points–all from the free throw line–while executing with sharp efficiency on offense.
Leading 50-48, the Lumberjacks embarked on the game-sealing final 14-1 stretch with Severts again prominent, including on a cutting and-one that was set up by a delightful dime by Biehn.
The Elks’ three-point shooting failed to generate an avenue back into the game in the closing minutes, as looks both contested and partially open would not go and swarming defense–exemplified by a block from Clusiau–continued to keep them shut down.
Bemidji had one final resounding moment to deliver on a Yeung slam that capped off a 5-on-1 break in transition, sealing the playoff victory in front of a delighted traveling crowd from the north.
Severts’ game-high 24 points led the charge on offense for the Jacks, while Lish added 14 and Matheney scored nine off the bench.
Bemidji (15-12) advances to face #1 Buffalo in the Section 8AAAA semifinals after the Bison fought off #8 Rogers for a 59-54 victory on Tuesday evening. The semifinal matchup is scheduled for 2pm on Saturday at Buffalo High School and can be heard on KBUN-FM 104.5 and Lumberjacks1 at kbunsportsradio.com beginning with pregame at 1:40.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Steve Thompson: