Bemidji boys basketball outscored Sartell-St. Stephen 21-12 over the final ten minutes of play to pull away for a 62-49 victory Thursday evening in Sartell, halting a stretch of six consecutive losses.
After leading or trailing within five points of their opponents in every game during the losing run, the Lumberjacks ensured that a lead that was once 16 points late in the first half stood up in an important victory in Section 8AAA.
The Lumberjacks had failed to make a three-pointer in the first meeting between the teams–a 76-55 Sartell victory in Bemidji’s season opener on Jan. 19–but quickly were on the mark from outside thanks to Isaac Severts.
With the game tied at 9 in a low-scoring opening stretch of play, the Lumberjacks embarked on an 8-0 run to open up a lead that would never be relinquished. In addition to providing 10 assists during the night, Sam Wilson skillfully maneuvered inside for a close-range bucket during the run.
Matt Arel provided a helpful scoring boost in the first half with eight points, including two makes from beyond the arc.
Despite finding room to operate difficult inside during the early stages of the first half, Gavin Luksik quickly got rolling thanks to a variety of layups created from good footwork and entry passes.
Bemidji grew its lead to 35-19 using some of its trademark distribution around the rim on feeds from James Williams to Arel and then Arel to Luksik.
Free throws from the Sabres trimmed the lead to 35-22 at the break before another surge in scoring cut down Bemidji’s edge to 36-28 early in the second. Williams steadied things not long after with a strong lay-in plus a foul to increase the lead.
Though the lead grew to 41-31 with Williams’ three-point play, Sartell pushed back to cut the deficit to four with a 6-0 run. That was all the closer the home team would come, as Severts and Luksik combined to help springboard Bemidji back up by double figures.
Severts notched 19 points, while Lukisk total 18 along with 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
Bemidji improves to 4-7 with the victory and has now vaulted to #4 in the Section 8AAA standings on QRF. The Lumberjacks will stay in section play with a trip to St. Cloud Apollo on Monday night at 7:15pm.