The Bemidji High School boys basketball team made an encouraging start to its new season Friday night, edging a tall and talented East Grand Forks Green Wave 64-61 at Bemidji.
The good turnout saw two evenly matched teams battle from start to finish with neither ever able to take command.
The game went down to the final minutes when East Side missed two close range shots in the final 13 seconds.
The Jacks will be idle until next Saturday when they host Cottage Grove Park at 3 in an afternoon contest.
Park and Grand Rapids will clash here Friday night, with Bemidji unable to find a fourth team to fill the usual four-team tournament.
The Jacks used 10 players in their opener with eight denting the scoring column.
Ryan Rude, held to a single basket in the opening half, came on strong after the break to lead with 19. Carey Woods added 11 and Dan Frost and Czar Woods had nine each.
The Wave's Matt Bauduin took game honors, however, getting 31 on a variety of jumpers and drives. Nate Carlson had 12.
A key to the Jacks' win was their ability to hold off the taller Wave off the boards, bringing down 39 to the losers' 36.
Their tight man-to-man defense also forced 18 turnovers which resulted in several easy layups. Bemidji had only 11 turnovers.
Neither team led by more than seven in the opening half, with the Wave running eight points midway through the period to go ahead 20-16 and expand it to 27-20 with four minutes left.
But the Jacks rallied for the next 11 to move ahead by four 31-27 only to see EGF counter with the final five, all by Bauduin, to take a 32-31 lead to the locker room.
Bauduin had 19 at this point. Frost's eight was Bemidji's high. The Jacks held a 23-16 lead off the boards to keep them in contention .
It was Bemidji's turn to move ahead early in the second half, using a seven point run to lead 43-36 and seemingly ready to take command.
But East Side would not permit it and began exerting itself off the boards and forcing turnovers to fight back.
Trailing 45-37, the Wave ran off the next nine points to go back in front 46-45.
From that point on, every basket was crucial.
The lead changed hands five times before Mitch Brown's third three-pointer of the game gave Bemidji a four-point advantage at 56-52.
The Wave cut the margin to a single point three times in the closing minutes, the final at 62-61.
But Czar Woods made one of two free throws and Rude did likewise seconds later.
With 13 ticks remaining, East Side got off two final shots but neither fell.
All 10 players had a hand in Bemidji's rebounding, led by Frost with seven.
Carlson grabbed 10 and Bauduin nine for the losers.
The two teams divided the preliminaries.
Bemidji took the B Team game 55-42 building a 3018 lead at the break and playing even down the stretch.
Bemidji was the far quicker team forcing 27 turnovers with a tight man to man defense.
But the Jacks had problems finding the bucket save for Ben Hengel who hit 19 in the first half and 25 overall to take game honors. J.C. Cervenka added 11.
Brandon Beiswenger had 10 to lead the Wave.
The freshmen fell behind 28-21 at the break and lost 58-33.
Fifteen players saw action and 11 scored. But none got more than five points. Jim Warmack hit 25 and Nick Erickson 16 for the winners to outscore Bemidji by themselves.
The B Team will face Park Saturday at 1. The C team is idle.