The Bemidji High girls basketball team overcame a slow start Tuesday night to turn back Detroit Lakes 61-47 before a fine turnout of around 800 fans at the Field House.
They witnessed Bemidji trail at the half for one of the few times this winter.
But it opened the second half with a run to take the lead, then dropped back briefly after eight minutes before finally taking charge for the rest of the game outscoring the Lakers 22-9 down the stretch to pull away.
Bemidji's goal most of the year was to hold an opponent to less than 20 points in the first half.
Tuesday it held DL to 16 points in the second half with its tight man to man defense.
Coach Rick Kehoe started an all senior lineup on Senior Night to start the game and was rewarded when Erika Bauer canned the first shot of the game for a brief 2-0 lead
But diminutive guard Dani Labine, the least known of the visitors, drilled three quick treys to push the Lakers ahead 11-2 before Kayla Hirt made her first appearance of the evening.
She quickly led Bemidji back into contention with a seven point run, cutting the margin to 17-13.
But the Lakers would not go away and maintained the lead until the break, scoring the final five points, the last on Labine's fourth trey to take a 31-24 advantage to the locker room.
She had 15 at this point including a regular three point play. Hirt had 12 for Bemidji.
But Bemidji fired out after the half, running home the first nine points to take a 33-31 lead on Paige Jensen's drive in.
It was 38-35 when DL scored four straight points to lead for the final time 39-38.
Bemidji then unleashed a 10 point run, six by Hirt, to move to a 48-39 advantage and never looked back.
The Bemidji defense was the outstanding factor of the final 17 minutes as DL seldom got a good look at the basket and only once put two baskets together.
Hirt ended with 23 while Jensen hit 11. But seven other players contributed between 2-7 points and all 15 saw action including JV performers Brittany Zastrow, Grace Felling and Maren Erpelding, dressing for the first time for a varsity game.
Labine was held scoreless after the half but still led the Lakers with 15. Kayli Muckenhirn came off the bench for 10, all in the second half.
Bemidji pulled down 41 boards to the losers 30 with Hirt clearing 12. It also had only 10 turnover to 22 for Detroit Lakes, 13 in the final half.
The win lifted Bemidji to 21-3 and dropped DL to 13-9.
The home crowd welcomed home former BHS three sport star Aaron Swenson, now the No. 2 man on the Lakers coaching staff.
Kehoe was all smiles after the game ended.
"That's the kind of defense we were playing at midseason," he said. "We sort of got away from it recently with too many one sided games. And after playing very loose in the first half, it was great to see us step up the intensity and dominate play."
The B Team went down 51-46.
Caitlin Gangelhoff hit 13 and Zastrow 10 for Bemidji.
It was business as usual for the unbeaten frosh who won 47-30, their 18th straight victory.
Jess Yost and Kenzie Kane again led the way with 21 and 20 while Kellie Morehouse added 11.
All three teams head to Grand Rapids tomorrow.