Big scoring runs at the start of both halves set the tone for Bemidji boys basketball to pile up a 105-64 demolition of Duluth Denfeld on Saturday afternoon at the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse. The scoring output was the largest in the last 15 recorded years of team results.
All five starters–and six players in total–scored in double figures for Bemidji on an afternoon where scoring was never a problem against a Denfeld defense that had allowed just under 84 points per game entering the contest.
The Jacks never trailed, opening the game on a 14-4 run that commenced with a three from Quincy Wilson right after the opening tip. Silas Hess made it back-to-back possessions with a make from beyond the arc on the following Bemidji possession.
After two straight games of mostly defending and ball distribution but no scoring to his name, Ben Hess changed that on Saturday, finishing through fouls three times during the game.
Gavin Luksik put together an excellent performance at both ends of the floor, showcasing his excellent touch around the rim while also forcing turnovers and setting others up with his passing. This finish inside helped the Lumberjacks to a fast 16-6 start, part of a 17-point first half from the sophomore.
All of Bemidji’s first-half rotation players got in on the scoring during the opening period, with five of them combining to knock down six three-pointers. James Williams had one of them on the wing to answer a three from the Hunters.
Isaiah Biehn provided both defense and offense, and showed an ability to score from long range as well later in the first half.
Despite a massive scoring half to build a 56-41 lead at the break, Bemidji had trouble containing Duluth Denfeld’s talented senior Armon Freeman, who poured in 25 first-half points to keep the visitors alive.
A reenergized defensive posture from to begin the second half fueled a 13-0 run for Bemidji out of the locker room that put the game away. Luksik saved a poke steal from going out of play to set up Silas Hess for an eventual and-1 at the other end of the floor.
One night removed from piling up 33 points on Cloquet, Colten Jensen turned mostly provider in the first half before posting 13 second-half points. Among them was a layup courtesy of a fantastic pass from Luksik while running the floor.
Bemidji’s lead only continued to grow, pushing beyond 30 as more players had the chance to see extended floor time in the second half. After hitting a free throw in the first half, Matt Arel added to the parade of three-pointers with one of his own in the second.
Arel came up with some strong play on defense as well, creating a transition leaner from Colby Carlson on the baseline.
From early on in the afternoon, it seemed apparent that Bemidji was going to put up a big number and possibly have a shot at eclipsing 100 points. Freshman Isaac Severts buried a corner triple to get the Lumberjacks past the milestone, as he posted 11 points off the bench in the rout.
Luksik led the six players in double figures with 21 points, while Jensen added 19–a total that leaves him 35 shy of 1,000 for his time with the BHS varsity. The Hess twins joined Severts with 11 points apiece, and Wilson scored 10.
Freeman was the Hunters’ only consistent–and frequent–avenue of offense, as he notched 39 points in the loss. Jon Bongiovanni added 12 for Denfeld, as Bemidji allowed only 23 second-half points.
Bemidji High School’s Unified basketball team was honored in a special ceremony before the game for their recent 3rd Place finish in Division A at the first-ever State Unified Basketball Tournament. The team, coached by Jackie and Bryan Stoffel, is comprised of both Special Olympics athletes and partners playing competitively together.
After a three-win week, Bemidji improves to 16-6 and heads into the final week of the regular season with two games to play. Up first is a trip to Brainerd on Monday, with tip at 7:15pm and pregame at 7:00 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 online.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Travis Peterson: