Last season the Bemidji and Moorhead boys basketball teams split a pair of games during the regular season. This winter the squads did the same, each winning on its home court.
Thursday night at Crookston High School one of the teams will take the upper hand in the series and this time there will be more on the line than just bragging rights.
The Section 8-4A championship and its reward, a trip to the state tournament, are up for grabs 7 p.m. today when the Lumberjacks and Spuds square off. Neither team was expected to be playing this late into the section tournament as Moorhead was seeded fifth and Bemidji was ranked sixth.
But the seedings meant nothing this year as evidenced by Brainerd, which was seeded eighth, knocking off No. 1 Buffalo in the opening round.
Bemidji's trip to the section final began with a 67-64 victory over Elk River and last Saturday the Jacks disposed of Rogers 44-41.
Moorhead nipped St. Michael-Albertville 56-55 in overtime in the quarterfinals and then bounced Brainerd 81-57.
BHS senior Richard Seado can't wait for tipoff and he knows exactly what the Lumberjacks will have to do in order to extend their season.
"We have to shut (Aaron) Lien down," Seado said of Moorhead's high-scoring guard. "And if we play defense like we did against Moorhead in Bemidji (a 51-47 win) and like we have during the section tournament we'll be okay."
Senior Brandon Supalla isn't surprised that Bemidji has advanced to the title game and he is eager for the game to begin.
"This is the matchup we wanted," Supalla said. "Coming into the section tournament we felt that we had a very good chance to get this far. We felt that we always had the talent but we just needed to come together as a team.
"It has also helped that we finally have our entire team available," Supalla continued. "We've been missing players because of injury and other reasons most of the year. But now we're at full strength."
During the regular season Moorhead downed Bemidji 74-57 at Moorhead on Jan. 7. A month later in Bemidji the Lumberjacks returned the favor on their home court.
Lien scored 24 points that night but the BHS defense limited the rest of the Spuds to only 23 points.
Jacks coach Jeff Brown would be elated with a similar performance.
"You really can't stop Lien," Brown said. "What you try to do is contain him and stop everybody else."
Seado is a key component in the plan to contain Lien and stop his teammates and the senior guard is happy to accept the responsibility.
"My role is to try and bring a spark to the offense but defense is really my thing," he said. "I enjoy getting in people's faces.
"Our game plan is to slow Lien down, play as a team and somehow get a 'W'. And I know everybody on our team believes that we can do just that."
"I'm excited. Everybody's excited," Supalla added. "The section title is right here for the taking. All we have to do is go get it."