The Bemidji Lumberjacks played another of the state's top three teams tough Friday night, pushing St. Cloud Tech most of the night before falling 74-66 at Halenbeck Hall on the campus of St. Cloud State.
The game was shifted from Tech which is hosting the Section 8AA gymnastics meet today.
Tech came into the game with a school record 21-0 start, equaling the mark set in its title year of 1935.
It broke that mark before the night ended but was never home free until the closing minutes of play.
Tech is third ranked in the state 4A poll. Earlier this year, Bemidji had pushed Apollo in a 73-73 setback at St. Cloud. Apollo is ranked third in the 3A state poll. Two of its three losses have come to Tech, the second a 69-67 decision Thursday.
Bemidji went through a shooting drought midway through each period when it could have taken command and paid the price.
The Jacks also paid a heavier price for frequent fouls which sent the Tigers to the line for 42 shots. They made 22.
Bemidji, on the other hand, made only five trips to the line and hit once, a 31 point deficit.
They made up for much of the difference by draining nine treys, four by Ray Walker and three by Ryan Telander.
Tech's Mr. Everything, 6-4 guard Nate Wolters, who hit 36 a night earlier in the Tech win over Apollo, hit 27 including making 16-18 from the free throw line.
Center Adam Johnson added 19 and forward Tyson Euerle 11.
Walker's 18 led Bemidji with Ryan Rude adding 17 and Telander 11.
The Jacks also stayed reasonably close off the boards with the taller Tigers grabbing 32 caroms to 40 for Tech. But a number of Tech's were offensive rebounds which they converted into easy lay- ups.
Tech opened a 10-2 lead and was ahead 12-5 when Bemidji launched a nine-point run to take its only lead of the night 14-12.
They had an opportunities to increase that margin through the next few minutes but couldn't find the basket.
Tech finally regained its shooting touch and out scored Bemidji 14-2 over a five minute period to lead 27-16 and seemed on its way to a one sided win.
But Bemidji would have none of it and fought back behind a trio of treys to come back to 34-33 before Wolters final two free throws upped the margin to three at halftime.
Bemidji had one fewer turnover and three fewer rebounds at this point.
Bemidji stayed close through the early stages of the second half, trailing 42-40 when a Johnson put back and Wolters' only trey of the game lifted Tech ahead by seven.
But it was down to three at 49-46 when the Jacks went into their second scoring funk and wasted several good scoring chances that could have reclaimed the lead.
At 54-49 Tech outscored Bemidji 8-3 to gain some breathing room and never let Bemidji get closer than seven the rest of the way.
Eighteen of the final 23 Tech points came from the line as Bemidji fouled repeatedly to regain possession.
The loss dropped the Jacks to 12-8 and snapped a three game win string. They are back on the court today at 3 against Rocori in the nightcap of a girls-boys twin bill. They play at Park Rapids Saturday in their only game next week.
"We found out again that we can play with the best teams in the area," said Coach Jeff Brown. "But you can't give a good team 42 free throw chances. We'll get back at it tomorrow at Rocori and try to get a split on the trip."
The B and C Teams both won.