A four-point halftime lead for Bemidji evaporated quickly in an early second half barrage from Fergus Falls as the Lumberjacks succumbed to a 72-50 loss on the road Saturday afternoon in girls basketball.
Bemidji had trailed almost the entirety of the game in a 67-42 loss to the Otters on home floor just a few weeks prior, but launched out to a 7-0 start in the second meeting thanks to holding the home team without a field goal for the first 4:45 of the game. At the offensive end, Lexi Tatro connected on two early threes to help set the tone.
The Otters showed the mettle that had helped them to a 14-3 record entering the game by taking their first lead at 10-9. But Jody Pemberton put Bemidji back in front with a quick layup on the other end of the floor.
Despite several pushes from the Otters that kept things tight, Bemidji continued to maintain its slender advantage the rest of the first half. A triple from Beth Bolte followed by a close-range field goal from Emily Wade kept Bemidji up by four, with Wade’s finish part of a small run that took Bemidji’s lead to its largest at 25-17 later.
Bemidji held a 29-25 lead at the halftime break, which grew by another bucket when a steal at midcourt from Jackie Johnson set Pemberton free for a layup.
The game changed in the ensuing minutes on a three-point onslaught from the Otters that saw them make five consecutive shots from beyond the arc. While star junior Ellie Colbeck was starting to get warmed up, it was Anna Anderson who completed a 9-0 Otters run with one of the three-pointers, putting Fergus Falls ahead almost for good at 34-31.
The Jacks traded baskets with the Otters for a rapid stretch soon after. A three from Tatro was matched by a pull-up triple from the South Dakota State-commit Colbeck, before Wade scored inside to close the Lumberjacks back within one.
With the Otters pulling ahead by eight, Bemidji got a brief reprieve on a steal by Katelyn Milbrandt that set up Johnson for a runout lay-in.
But Fergus Falls overwhelmed Bemidji the rest of the way, quickly surging ahead by double figures before posting a fifth-consecutive win of 21 points or more against the Lumberjacks.
Wade’s 13 points led Bemidji in scoring, with Bolte tallying 10 as well.
Bemidji slips below .500 with the loss to 8-9, and was confirmed as the #3 seed in the upcoming Section 8AAA playoffs with the QRF locked in on Sunday. The Lumberjacks will host #6 Sauk Rapids-Rice in a quarterfinal game on Thursday evening at 7pm.
Prior to opening the playoffs, Bemidji will host Grand Rapids on Tuesday evening at 7:15pm.