Despite trailing by 14 with less than three minutes remaining, Bemidji mounted a late rally before falling 69-66 at Brainerd in the girls basketball season opener on Friday evening.
The Lumberjacks never led in the game, trailing 7-0 in the opening minutes before junior guard Jackie Johnson nailed a deep three-pointer to put Bemidji on the board.
Though rebounding was a struggle at times during the night, the Lumberjacks turned an offensive rebound into points later in the first half thanks to sophomore Beth Bolte.
Trailing 29-16 late in the half, Bemidji put together a late 13-3 burst to pull within 32-29 at the break. Several different contributors chipped in on the run, including the first points of the night for junior guard Jody Pemberton.
Back in touching distance to start the second half, the Lumberjacks got on the board again thanks to some nifty passing between Pemberton and Emily Wade.
The Warriors regained a double-digit lead at 41-31 with an ensuing 7-0 burst, then used an 8-0 run to climb to a 52-37 advantage. Their surges were often fueled by senior guard Ally Brzezinski, who scored 18 of her game-high 23 points in the second half.
Lexi Tatro stopped the latter run with a wing triple to get on the board for the first time.
Down by 14 with around three minutes remaining, Johnson started a wild barrage of three-point makes with a launch from well beyond the arc.
Kylie Johnson of Brainerd matched her make from three-point range at the other end to take the lead to 68-54, before Tatro fired away to respond with yet another triple.
That three kicked off a sudden 12-1 run to close the game, where Bemidji pulled within six with less than a minute to go on a layup by Johnson.
A second-chance bucket from Bolte got Bemidji within five, but after a runner from Pemberton missed following a Brainerd 10-second backcourt call, the Lumberjacks could only get a buzzer-beating layup from Wade to get within three at the final horn.
Johnson tallied 18 points, while Wade finished with 16 and Bolte added 13 in defeat.
The Lumberjacks start the season 0-1 and will travel to Hibbing tomorrow evening for a 7pm game.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Steve Schreiber: