The Bemidji Lumberjacks overcame a lethargic start Tuesday night to overcome Detroit Lakes 55-44 at the Fieldhouse in the opening game of the Section 8-3A playoffs.
The win sends the Jacks to St. Cloud State for a Saturday morning game with Little Falls.
Bemidji edged the Flyers by two points 68-66 at home earlier this year.
As feared by Coach Jeff Brown, Bemidji was tight at the start with only three players on the team who had ever taken part in a playoff game before.
The Lakers jumped ahead, draining three treys in succession for a 9-0 lead.
Two were by talented sophomore Joe Mollberg off the bench.
But the Jacks closed him down the rest of the night to finish with nine.
Buckets by Josh Kane and Czar Woods broke the spell but the Lakers answered with four for a 13-4 lead and seemed ready to pose serious problems.
But Bemidji untracked at this point to score the following nine points, four by Ryan Rude, and knot the score at 13-13.
The Lakers regained the lead momentarily on a Josh Stalberger free throw but Bemidji took it right back and never surrounded it again.
It was the Jacks defense that carried the day.
After the opening rush, it closed down the Lakers with six more points until halftime and gradually worked to an eight point lead which was still seven at the break 26-19.
Six different players had scored for the Jacks, Rude and Carey Woods high with six. Mollberg had that total for the visitors.
Bemidji's defense grew even stronger after the break.
It outscored the visitors 14-4 over the first five minutes of the second half to lead 38-23 and was never seriously threatened again though unable to put the game safely away until the closing minutes.
DL kept within10-12 points until an 8-4 run in the final minutes widened the gap to 14 and put the game away.
Rude ended with 14 and Carey Woods 12 for Bemidji. But Josh Kane added nine and Dan Frost eight, many of them key baskets.
Conner Hedstrom paced DL with12. Stalberger and Mollberg hit nine.
Bemidji won the game off the boards, grabbing 46 rebounds to 29 for the losers. Carey Woods cleared 10 and Rude nine. Stalberger's 10 paced DL.
The Jacks also had only 16 turnovers while forcing 19 in the well played games.
Both teams went