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BOYS BASKETBALL: Jacks soar in ‘most complete’ showing for unexpected blowout

The Lumberjacks called in an unexpected blowout. That was largely made possible by holding Hermantown to a season-low 60 points -- well below an average of 83.0 that ranks sixth out of all 415 teams in Minnesota.

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Bemidji senior Gavin Luksik (33) shoots a free throw in the first half against Hermantown on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- It began with the Bemidji High School boys basketball trying to keep up with Hermantown’s offense. It ended with the Lumberjacks leaving them in the dust.

“We expected to have a good game,” BHS senior Gavin Luksik said. “We knew we had to play at our best, and we did. We proved that we can play better, and we showed everyone that we’re a better team.”

Bemidji put on an impressive show, shutting down the Hawks 85-60 at the BHS Gymnasium in a dominant, no-doubt-about-it kind of showcase.

“I thought we played our most complete basketball game tonight, executing in all facets,” head coach Steve Thompson said. “A real credit to these guys. They’re playing good basketball at the right time of the year.”

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Bemidji students cheer in the second half against Hermantown on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The Lumberjacks called in an unexpected blowout. That was largely made possible by holding Hermantown to a season-low 60 points -- well below an average of 83.0 that ranks sixth out of all 415 teams in Minnesota.

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“It was a little bit of a shock that the outcome was what it was. But a credit to our boys,” Thompson said. “(Hermantown) is a very good team. They have a shot at winning their section. So for us to do what we did tonight, it was really impressive. I’m really proud of the boys.”

It was close for a time, but it didn’t stay that way for long. Bemidji (7-4) was down 26-22 after a back-and-forth start, but then the Jacks took off with a game-changing 20-3 run.

Khai Branham’s back-to-back smooth jumpers provided the spark, and Luksik followed with a few quick scores himself. Isaac Severts threw down a dunk, Ethan Biehn mixed in a 3-pointer, and finally Sam Wilson capped the run with a turnaround jumper off the glass.

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Bemidji junior Isaac Severts (15) dunks in the first half against Hermantown on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“It’s awesome because the crowd gets into it too,” Luksik said. “They get hyped when Isaac’s throwing down dunks and we’re hitting threes. It just boosts that momentum even more, and it just seals the game, honestly.”

The surge provided BHS a 42-29 cushion, which held firm at 45-35 by halftime. But that certainly wasn’t all. Bemidji blew the doors off the thing in the second half, leaving no doubt about the final outcome.

Luksik converted a layup for a 64-44 lead, which finished up an extended 19-7 run and provided a 20-point cushion for the first time. Luksik later made it 75-50 with an easy score of Wilson’s entry feed, and the final six minutes were all but a formality.

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Bemidji senior Sam Wilson (11) looks to pass the ball in the first half against Hermantown on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Although Hermantown drained eight 3-pointers in the first half, the Hawks only made one in the second half -- a largely meaningless triple that only slashed the deficit to 21 with three minutes left.

“(The final score) shows that we can play together as a team,” Luksik said. “All around, we played amazing help defense, kept them out of the paint, forced them to take shots that they weren’t comfortable with and forced them to go to their weak hand.”

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Luksik finished with 25 points alongside 20 from Severts. Biehn also tallied 14 and Wilson 11 in the strong but balanced attack that snapped Hermantown’s 10-game winning streak.

Blake Schmitz had 17 points and Michael Lau 14 to lead the Hawks.

Bemidji will quickly return to the BHS Gymnasium for a 1 p.m. game against Grand Rapids on Saturday, Feb. 5, where the Jacks will hope to keep on rolling.

“The makeup of this team, when we are focused, is really special,” Thompson said. “The boys have really responded these last couple weeks by playing some really good basketball.”

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Bemidji junior Daniel Clusiau (1) controls the ball in the second half against Hermantown on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji 85, Hermantown 60

HER 35 25 -- 60

BHS 45 40 -- 85

HERMANTOWN (13-5) -- B. Schmitz 17, Lau 14, Soumis 8, Christianson 7, Menzel 5, Sundlad 5, Hill 4.

BEMIDJI (7-4) -- Luksik 25, Severts 20, Biehn 14, Wilson 11, Branham 8, Lish 5, Clusiau 2.

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Bemidji junior Ethan Biehn (2) controls the ball in the first half against Hermantown on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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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