BOYS BASKETBALL: Moorhead outlasts Bemidji in likely final home game
Moorhead pulled away from the Bemidji High School boys basketball team on Monday night at the BHS Gymnasium.
BEMIDJI – It’s not a bad time of the year to play a competitive game against a state tournament hopeful.
Thus, it was good timing for the Bemidji High School boys basketball team to battle with Moorhead, one of the top teams in Section 8-4A, on Monday night. But the Spuds beat the Jacks, pulling away to a 65-50 win at the BHS Gymnasium.
“Obviously, when you play a great team like that, it’s going to get you ready for playoffs every single time,” BHS senior guard Ethan Biehn said. “I think it’s amazing we got this game a week before playoffs. (Tonight) shows us that we’re capable of competing and winning this (Section 8-4A) Tournament when we bring our best. I’m super excited to have that chance next week.”
A cold shooting spell had Bemidji (13-12) behind the eight-ball early.
The Jacks took over five minutes to see a shot fall from the field. Braden Luksik knocked down a mid-range floater at 12:38 before Isaac Severts made another over two and a half minutes later. By then, BHS trailed 15-5.
Moorhead (17-7) led by as many as 15 in the first half. Colton Hagen and Dylan Zimmerman combined for 20 of the Spuds’ first 23 points. Both finished with game-highs of 19 points.
Biehn and Jaxon Boschee brought Bemidji’s offense back from the dead late in the first half. Biehn hit the floor with 3:14 remaining for a hard-earned offensive board. He called a timeout to avoid the jump ball, setting up a Boschee 3-pointer out of the break.
The BHS guards sparked a 13-4 run to end the first half. Dawson Lish hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left, cutting the Lumberjacks’ deficit to six.
Boschee’s deep ball was three of his 10 points on the night. The freshman guard found himself in the starting lineup in the absence of senior Dan Clusiau.
“We’re really proud of Jaxon and what he’s done,” BHS head coach Steve Thompson said. “He’s put in a lot of work to get where he’s at. For a player his age to come out and make those kinds of shots in those moments is fun to see.”
Moorhead stretched its 29-23 halftime lead to 49-39 with 8:20 left. Zimmerman hit a floater, capping a 6-0 run for the Spuds.
The Lumberjacks made a late push. Matt Matheney hit a 3-pointer with 4:50 left, cutting the deficit to nine points.
Quinten Yeung thought his transition layup made it a seven-point game on Bemidji’s next possession. However, an offensive goaltending call wiped the score off the board. The official ruled Boschee touched the netting before the ball fell through the cylinder.
From there, Moorhead closed the final 3:36 on another 6-0 run.
“Moorhead is a good team, but we did a lot of really good things tonight,” Thompson said. “We just didn’t get quite enough buckets to fall for us tonight to hang in there and really put the pressure on them at the end. I told the boys after the game that it wasn’t our night tonight, but next Wednesday is the start of everything, and everything starts all over again.”
Bemidji State and Moorhead State faced off in more ways than one Monday night. While the two NSIC North foes played for a spot in the men's conference title game in Sioux Falls, S.D., two of their future players went head-to-head in the post at the BHS Gymnasium.
Severts, a BSU commit, battled with future Dragon Adam Jenkins. Not only did both sign on to play for their hometown schools, they each crossed the 1,000-point milestone during their senior seasons.
“They play on the same AAU team, so they know each other real well,” Thompson said. “Anybody that gets to see that caliber of players compete live will have a lot of fun. It’s fun to watch, and we’re lucky to have an Isaac Severts kind of guy on our team.”
BHS will play one more regular-season game at 7:15 p.m. in Hibbing on Thursday, March 2, before the 8-4A playoffs begin on Mar. 8. The Jacks will hit the road for their quarterfinal matchup regardless of the outcome in their tune-up game. Section 8-4A seedings are based on the QRF standings, and will be finalized on Mar. 4.
Biehn isn’t just optimistic about Bemidji’s chances in the postseason. He’s confident.
“It truly does,” Biehn said when asked if Bemidji's talent gives him belief. “Every single game we’ve played in our section has been close. It shows that on any given day, any team can win. We have the power to do that. I feel like we’ve demonstrated that we’re capable of making a run.”
Moorhead 65, Bemidji 50
MHD 29 36 – 65
BHS 23 27 – 50
MOORHEAD – Hagen 19, Zimmerman 19, Jenkins 17, Griffin 3, Smith 3, Pepple 2, Zarazua 2.
BEMIDJI – Severts 17, Boschee 10, Biehn 7, Lish 7, Matheney 5, Luksik 4.