When it was finished, hands went out wide for explanation, to the hips in disappointment, to the face in disbelief.
And, ultimately, the Bemidji High School boys basketball team had to walk off the court empty-handed.
Alexandria came into the BHS Gymnasium on Tuesday and survived 62-61 in overtime, stopping Isaac Severts from getting off a game-winning shot attempt at the buzzer. That, paired with Kobe Jenson’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds remaining, kept the Lumberjacks from an upset in a back-and-forth thriller.
Jenson was ready after junior forward Erik Hedstrom had fouled out of the game. Point guard Kristen Hoskins drove the lane and found Jenson wide open in the corner as he drained the triple that proved to be the game-winner.
"Kobe played well throughout the night, particularly on the defensive end," Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt said. "He gave us a physical presence inside that we needed. Kristen did a great job attacking the middle of their zone and finding Kobe in the corner for the game winner. It was a great moment for Kobe and our team, gutting it out and finding a way in a game we didn't play real well."
The basketball game felt more like a boxing match that went a full 12 rounds, lacing up the gloves instead of sneakers and trading punches all night.
And to prove it was a heavyweight headliner, Alexandria’s roster featured Bemidji State commit Colton Roderick and his suffocating length at the top of a zone defense, plus Minnesota football commit Kristen Hoskins and his powerful drives to the rim.
Nevertheless, first was a fantastic start from BHS, and Gavin Luksik reeled off his own 6-0 run as part of a 17-9 start for the Jacks (3-7). Yet the Cardinals (11-1) soon responded through a 10-2 spurt that knotted things up at 21-all late in the first half.
"I thought the most encouraging factor of the game was our ability to keep battling despite our offensive struggles," Witt said. "We weren't great by any stretch, but the kids weathered the storm and capitalized on a few timely opportunities."
After a 28-27 lead at the break, Bemidji stretched its advantage to 41-36 when Khai Branham came in fresh off the bench and drained a corner three with 8:36 to go. It stood as the only two-possession difference in the final 25 minutes of regulation.
“With a team like Alexandria, they can be explosive in scoring,” Bemidji head coach Steve Thompson said. “So it’s very critical that we keep it close and defend really well. The boys did a great job of that. A couple of small runs here or there where they battled back and we battled back, but overall, an outstanding defensive effort tonight.”
Hoskins put Alexandria in front 50-49 on a steal-turned-layup with 1:38 left. He then made one of two bonus free throws with 15.1 seconds on the clock, which opened the door for Severts’ game-tying and overtime-forcing layup 10 seconds later.
The Lumberjacks carried that momentum into OT and scored the opening six points -- first on two give-and-go layups from Severts to Luksik and back to Severts, then two James Williams free throws with 2:39 left.
However, up four with under 40 seconds left, BHS fumbled away two turnovers that transformed into a Hoskins layup and Jenson’s knockout punch in the closing seconds.
“Those (plays) are always amplified at the end of a game, but the truth of the matter is that it’s one possession,” Thompson said. “Anywhere along the road during a game, they all matter. It’s tough to handle at the end of a game like that, but these boys have shown resiliency all year, and I expect the same.”
Luksik finished with 22 points for the Jacks, while Severts had 16. Roderick matched the game-high with 22 for the Cardinals, while Hoskins tallied 14 and Erik Hedstrom 13.
Alexandria 62, Bemidji 61 (OT)
ALX 27 35 -- 62
BHS 28 33 -- 61
ALEXANDRIA (11-1) -- Roderick 22, Hoskins 14, Hedstrom 13, Jenson 5, Odland 3, Sansted 3, Steffensmeier 2.
BEMIDJI (3-7) -- Luksik 20, Severts 16, Williams 6, Wilson 6, Arel 4, LaValley 4, Branham 3, I. Biehn 2.