Bemidji boys basketball missed out on multiple chances to tie or take the lead inside the final four minutes of regulation in a narrow 55-52 loss at Sauk Rapids-Rice on Friday evening.
The result was Bemidji’s fifth consecutive loss, with every game featuring the Lumberjacks within five points with under five minutes to play. Trailing by one with under three minutes to play, the Lumberjacks missed out on multiple opportunities to tie or take the lead, also missing on a late layup and free throws that would have tied the game with under 20 seconds to play.
Early exchanges from the two teams featured Bemidji finding success scoring inside, while the Storm dropped in multiple early three-pointers in a close open to the night.
Ethan Opsahl’s scoring ability was on full display throughout the night for the Storm, with the senior hitting on several first-half threes as the teams stayed close midway through the first half.
Ethan Biehn provided a spark off the bench late in the first half for the Lumberjacks, knocking down a triple to restore the lead for the visitors before adding another bucket inside on the next possession to make it 30-25.
The Lumberjacks took a 32-29 lead into halftime after a late exchange of skilled lay-ins from Isaac Severts and Opsahl.
Bemidji exploded out of the locker room to begin the second half, seizing a nine-point advantage with an 8-2 run. Running in transition set up layups for James Williams and Sam Wilson before Severts punctuated the run with a strong basket through contact.
The game’s tide turned decisively in the following minutes, as the Storm strung together a 19-4 run to build a 50-44 lead. Though the early stages of the run were initiated while he was on the bench, Opsahl was at the center of much of the offensive punch for the home team, pouring in another bucket from straight away while the Lumberjacks toiled offensively.
Back-to-back makes from Wilson and Severts outside and in propelled Bemidji back within one as the game headed into a final stretch that would prove to be short on scoring.
But Opsahl would be part of the final say for the Storm, providing another inside bucket to add two more of his game-high 30 points to keep Sauk Rapids-Rice ahead by three.
Bemidji cut the lead to one late, and had a chance to tie after getting a steal in the final 20 seconds while down 53-51. But Severts missed the transition layup and Gavin Luksik could only make one of two free throws at the line–underscoring a painfully difficult night at the free throw line for the Lumberjacks, who shot 5-for-15 at the charity stripe. After two free throws from Opsahl, a straightaway triple for the tie from Severts missed short.
Severts’ 14 points led the Lumberjacks in scoring, while Wilson and Luksik each tallied nine points.
The Lumberjacks drop to 3-6 and will host Alexandria on Tuesday at 7:15pm from the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse. Pregame will be at 7pm on KBUN+ FM 100.1 and KBUN2 at kbunsportsradio.com.