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BOYS BASKETBALL: Jacks rally to win overtime classic

BEMIDJI -- Not many wins come as clutch as the one the Bemidji High School boys basketball team pulled off on Saturday. Down eight with under three minutes to play, the Lumberjacks swung momentum their way and came all the way back to force overt...

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Bemidji High School senior Ryan Bieberdorf scores on a breakaway in the first half of Saturday's win over Hermantown at the BHS Gymnasium. (Micah Friez | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Not many wins come as clutch as the one the Bemidji High School boys basketball team pulled off on Saturday.

Down eight with under three minutes to play, the Lumberjacks swung momentum their way and came all the way back to force overtime -- where they eventually claimed an 84-79 victory over Hermantown at the BHS Gymnasium.

“The kids dug in and didn’t give up,” Bemidji head coach Travis Peterson said. “We dug ourselves a hole there with a couple minutes to go, and the guys made stops down the stretch. It was our only chance. We got stops, and we were able to score just enough to put it into overtime.”

The Jacks (13-1) called a timeout with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in regulation, trailing 73-65. The BHS defense had struggled to get stops for most of the half, but they closed on a 9-1 run to force an extra frame.

“We knew we had to go on a run and get defensive stops,” said senior Ryan Bieberdorf, who finished with a team-high 21 points. “Not getting caught up in the moment, being able to play good defense and not getting too excited… it led to stops. Then we focused on offense, and it led to buckets.”

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Jacob Beberg started the final surge with a cutting layup off a Spencer Konecne feed. Bieberdorf later tied it at 74-all with 20 seconds on the clock, scoring at the rim off an inbounds pass from Kade Peterson.

A final defensive stop forced four minutes of overtime, where Bemidji took back control.

Colten Jensen opened the scoring with a offensive rebound and reverse putback, and Bieberdorf soon after connected from the block for an 80-77 lead.

Beberg followed with a tough finish inside, and Quincy Wilson capped the day with a pair of free throws to ice away the win.

“It comes down to working and getting stops on defense,” coach Peterson said. “They’re well coached and a well disciplined team. But I think, in the end, our depth did make a difference once again.”

What was different than the norm, though, was that an opponent stuck around all game against BHS.

“Usually we have that second-half bounce where we can get a cushion and get some other guys in,” Bieberdorf said. “But for all of us, it was a good test.”

The Hawks (14-5) trailed most of the first half, but they always kept in contention for a 41-34 game at the break. And after halftime, Hermantown started a trend of back-and-forth momentum swings.

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The Hawks broke off 13 straight points for a 50-47 lead. The Lumberjacks scored the next 10, only to have Hermantown answer it with a 12-0 run for a 64-59 advantage.

“It was good basketball,” Bieberdorf said. “They’d call timeout and take advantage of what we were doing, and then we would call timeout and take advantage of what they were doing. It was back-and-forth like that for most of the second half.”

The Hawks built their lead to 73-65 with 2:46 to go, but it was all Bemidji from there. BHS outscored Hermantown by eight to force overtime, then doubled up the Hawks 10-5 in the extra frame to win an instant classic.

“This is probably the No. 1 win for us (so far),” coach Peterson said. “To win like that in front of our home crowd, it was pretty fun. I think it was pretty entertaining for the fans. The kids feed off of the fans. … It was a team win, but the fans definitely had a part in it, as well.”

Alongside Bieberdorf’s 21 points, Konecne added 19, Jensen 15 and Wilson nine. Peter Soumis paced the Hawks with 27.

“It feels amazing to (win like this),” Bieberdorf said. “A lot of emotion (came out). All of us love the game. It feels good to win.”

Bemidji is back on the court at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, against Superior at the BHS Gymnasium.

Bemidji 84, Hermantown 79 (OT)

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HHS 34 40 5 -- 79

BHS 41 33 10 -- 84

HERMANTOWN (14-5) -- Soumis 27, Bich 22, Kucza 17, Everett 5, Thomas 3, Hansen 2, Mesedahl 2, Bjorlin 1.

BEMIDJI (13-1) -- Bieberdorf 21, Konecne 19, Jensen 15, Wilson 11, Milz 9, Beberg 8, Peterson 1.

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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