A scoreless final three minutes stymied Bemidji boys basketball’s efforts for a late rally in a 54-51 defeat to Fergus Falls on the road Tuesday evening.
The loss was the sixth in a row for the Lumberjacks against the Otters since the resumption of their annual series in 2016, with four of the defeats coming in either overtime or a one-possession result.
Tight early exchanges between the two teams included struggles shooting the three-pointer for the Otters, which gave Bemidji a chance to open up a slender lead. Sam Wilson used crafty ball handling for both a layup inside and to set up Isaac Severts for a driving layup.
With Fergus Falls off the mark shooting the three early in the first half, the Lumberjacks took advantage with several makes from downtown to widen the lead. Gavin Luksik stepped beyond the arc to knock down two triples, before Matt Arel hit a straightaway three to open up a 30-18 advantage.
Foreshadowing what was to come in the second half, Bemidji did not score in the final three minutes of the first half while the Otters mustered an 8-0 run to trim the lead to four at the half. The run would add up to 13-0 by early in the second half, giving Fergus Falls a slim 31-30 lead.
With the interior sealed off defensively by 7-foot Otters center Chance Fazio, Bemidji seized the lead back through more three-point shooting against a zone defense. Trevor Rohder, James Williams, and Isaiah Biehn all knocked down threes as Bemidji took back a six-point advantage past the midway point in the half.
Down 44-38, the Otters strung together another run–this time a 10-1 spurt–to go in front before widening the advantage to 52-47. Back-to-back buckets from Severts–punctuated by a two-handed jam off a transition pass from Williams–pulled Bemidji back within one with just three minutes to play.
Neither team would record a field goal in the final three minutes of the game, with turnovers and Fazio’s rim protection stopping several chances for Bemidji to go in front. Two Dominic Aguilar free throws widened Fergus’ lead to three, while Fazio made a quick recovery to reject Wilson at the other end.
Despite turning the ball over with 10 seconds to play, Bemidji secured a steal at midcourt before Wilson’s double-clutch jumper for the tie fell short just before the buzzer.
Severts was the only Lumberjack to reach double figures with 13 points, while Williams tallied nine. Fazio led all in scoring with 14 points.
The Lumberjacks drop to 3-2 before another road trip south to Willmar on Friday evening at 7:15pm. The game can be heard on KBUN Plus (FM 100.1/AM 1450) and KBUN2 at kbunsportsradio.com.