Bemidji has lost five of its past six games but four of those setbacks were decided by four points or less.
Tuesday's 65-64 home loss to Detroit Lakes followed that trend and when the Lumberjacks review the tape they will see many chances to reverse the decision.
"After the game I stressed to the kids that every possession matters and you have to play that way," said BHS coach Jeff Brown. "The kids worked very hard but as a team we had too many mental mistakes. And those mistakes cost us."
The teams battled on even terms the entire evening. The largest lead either squad enjoyed was a 54-48 Lakers' advantage with 4:25 to play.
The first half featured eight lead changes and seven ties. Both teams played pressure basketball and neither was willing to give in.
With four minutes to play in the first half Detroit Lakes broke a 23-23 stalemate with four straight points on Brian Labat's alley-oop dunk and Kirk McLeod's fast break bucket.
Bemidji, however, scored the final three points of the half as Richard Seado hit a free throw and Devaughn Rainey converted Carey Woods' crisp feed for an inside basket. Those points brought Bemidji within 29-28 at intermission.
The trend continued in the second as the teams exchanged the lead six times. With 7:30 remaining in the game Luke Morgan gave the visitors a 48-46 cushion when he scored along the baseline.
A few minutes later Detroit Lakes owned its 54-48 advantage, but the Lumberjacks battled back and Woods' 3-pointer with 2:06 to play sliced the deficit to 58-56.
With 9.6 seconds to play Mitch Brown converted a drive to bring Bemidji within 61-59 and three seconds later Labat was fouled following an inbounds pass.
He made one of the free throws to give the Lakers a 3-point edge. Not wanting Bemidji to tie the game with a trey in the final seconds, the defense grabbed Brown as he brought the ball up the court with 4.2 seconds on the clock.
The officials did not rule the play as an intentional foul, much to the dissatisfaction of the BHS bench, and a technical foul was called on the Lumberjacks.
Brown made his two free throws but Joe Mollberg hit one of his two charity tosses to give Detroit Lakes a 63-61 lead.
And the Lakers kept the ball after the free throws, forcing Bemidji to foul Rick Hutchinson with 3.5 seconds to play.
Hutchinson converted both of his free throws to provide a 65-61 lead and ice the victory. Woods' 3-pointer at the buzzer made the final 65-64.
Woods finished with 18 points to lead the Lumberjacks and Brown, who missed the previous two games because of a concussion, scored 10. Connor Sullivan added nine hard-fought points from the paint and Cody Rutledge finished with eight.
Labat led all scorers with 23 for the Lakers (15-5) and Mollberg added 19.
Bemidji (11-10) is at Willmar Saturday and will return home Feb. 23 against Grand Rapids.
Detroit Lakes (65)
McLeod 3, 0-0, 6; Mollberg 7, 3-4, 19; Singer 1, 0-0, 2; Hutchinson 2, 2-2, 6; Labat 7, 9-15, 23; Long 2, 0-0, 5; Morgan 2, 0-0, 4. Totals: 24, 14-21, 65
Rainey 3, 0-0, 6; Rutledge 4, 0-0, 8; Brown 3, 3-4, 10; Supalla 0, 1-2, 1; Woods 7, 1-1, 18; Seado 0, 1-2, 1; Cervenka 2, 0-0, 5; Sullivan 3, 3-4, 9; Declusin 2, 0-0, 6. Totals: 25, 9-13, 64
3-point FG: Detroit Lakes 3, Bemidji 5 (Brown 1, Woods 2, Cervenka 1)
Fouls: Detroit Lakes 14, Bemidji 18
Halftime: Detroit Lakes 29, Bemidji 28