Bemidji boys basketball rallied from an eight-point deficit with four minutes remaining to take the lead, but Peyton Menzel’s three-pointer with 20 seconds to play gave Hermantown a narrow 80-79 victory on Friday evening at Hermantown High School.
The Lumberjacks had kicked off a five-game winning streak with a two-point win at home against the defending Section 7AAA champion Hawks, but could not repeat the feat in a close game that swung back and forth throughout the night. While the hosts focused on creating looks from three-point range, Bemidji used its transition game to attack off misses and blocks like Quinten Yeung’s rejection that led to a bucket for Dawson Lish.
Physical battles on the low post were common throughout the night, including on a drive to the basket by Isaac Severts that failed to be converted but still turned into a reload three from the senior forward.
The Jacks continued to punish Hermantown in transition, getting another layup from Lish after the Hawks had converted a free throw at the other end.
Severts pushed Bemidji’s lead to 10 with a minute to play in the half by taking advantage of a fallen defender to sail inside for a slam dunk.
Hermantown quickly answered with five straight to bring the Jacks’ lead down to 41-36 at the half, then kept the run going to capture the lead with six straight points to begin the second half. Bemidji found an answer thanks to Jaxon Boschee, who knocked down a three out of a timeout to knot the score at 46.
The two teams traded buckets and the lead rapidly during the second half, with the Hawks getting hot from outside and finding opportunities around the rim. Severts swung the tide back in Bemidji’s favor with another triple off an offensive rebound from Yeung.
Boschee poured in all 11 of his points in the second half and created another lead change with his third three of the game.
The Hawks countered with an 8-0 run, and would lead 75-67 with just over four minutes to play in the game before Bemidji made a big move. After a big reverse from Braden Luksik under the basket, Lish continued his strong play on the glass by turning an offensive rebound into a patient putback to trim the lead to four.
More transition play set up Ethan Biehn to knock down a clutch tying three with two minutes remaining that evened the score at 75.
Severts capped off a 10-0 run by sweeping inside to finish a lay-in that gave Bemidji a 77-75 advantage.
After a costly turnover running the floor with a little over a minute left, Bemidji watched as Hermantown tied the game with a pair of free throws. Biehn countered by sinking a pair at the line with 30 seconds left, setting up the Hawks to find Menzel on a drive-and-kick to the corner for the game’s decisive shot.
Severts got one last look with less than five seconds left for the Lumberjacks out of a timeout, but his drive into the low post was met with no-call contact and a block from behind.
A missed free throw from the Hawks and one final intercepted inbound up court by the Jacks secured the narrow win for Hermantown.
Severts led five Bemidji players in double figures scoring with 24 points. Biehn added 16, Lish and Yeung each scored 12, and Boschee finished with 11.
Bemidji drops to 11-7 and will next travel to Perham on Tuesday for a 7:30pm game.