Boys Basketball: Kraemer ignites Warriors to win
Consider DJ Kraemer a hired assassin.
When the Brainerd Warriors need instant offense, enter the shooting guard like a hired gun from an old Clint Eastwood western. And the senior usually delivers.
He did Thursday, entering a stagnant non-conference game against Pequot Lakes at Brainerd High School. Kraemer scored 14 points in the first half and led Brainerd to a 57-19 home victory.
Kraemer hit four 3s and added another basket to score more points than Brainerd’s starting lineup. Granted, Brainerd held a 31-6 halftime lead so the starters didn’t play many minutes.
“(Brainerd head coach Scott Stanfield) and I talked about my role before the season and I’m just trying to fill it,” said Kraemer. “Without all these guys passing it to me, I wouldn’t be able to hit those shots. So credit goes to everyone out there.”
Kraemer scored eight straight points in one stretch, leading to a 25-0 Brainerd lead.
“If there is anybody on our team who has helped us the most, it’s been DJ,” said Stanfield. “If you remember the team from last year, he kind of took over the role of Tony Sauer and what he used to do. You need that off the bench and it was evident today.
“Our front-line starters started kind of cold and DJ comes in and hits a couple of 3s and everybody gets rolling. He’s capable of doing that and we expect him to do that.”
The Warriors held Class 2A’s Patriots scoreless until 2:26 in the half when Travis Jacobson hit a running hook to make it 25-2. Jacobson led Pequot with six points. Pequot shot 2-of-20 in the first half and turned the ball over 14 times in that frame.
“Without the defense there is no offense and that’s what coach really stresses,” said Kraemer. “You can’t take any opponent easy. Pequot Lakes is a good team and we knew we couldn’t take it easy and that’s what we did in the first half.”
Brainerd didn’t shoot much better, hitting 37 percent from the field in the first half and finishing just 20-of-52 (38 percent) for the game. Brainerd was 6-of-18 from the foul line.
“That first half was just a combination of Pequot just didn’t shoot well and we played pretty well defensively,” said Stanfield. “That’s the way we like to play and normally do.
“The zone that Pequot played really slowed the game down and I think that was their intent. That caught us standing at times and our front-line guys missed some early shots and that slowed us down even more.”
Brainerd closed out the game with a 17-2 run for the final score.
Logan McElfresh scored eight points and Jacob Russell added seven for Brainerd, which saw 13 different players score.
It’s the fifth straight win for the Warriors, who improved to 10-6. Thursday was Brainerd’s first of six home games in its next seven contests.
“It’s extremely important for us to catch some confidence here at home and hopefully carry that over to the road,” Kraemer said. “Then hopefully you can just keep rolling and carry it into the sections.”
Pequot Lakes 6 13 — 19
Brainerd 31 26 — 57
Brett Peterson 3, John Craig 2, Travis Jacobson 6, Hunter Larson 2, CJ Borleis 4, Keegan Johnson 2. FG 8-41 (20 percent), FT 2-6 (33 percent). 3-point 2-14 (14 percent).
Conor Gessell 2, DJ Kraemer 14, Logan Davis 1, Logan McElfresh 8, Grant Reuer 3, Isaiah Smith 3, Jacob Russell 7, Nick Schwen 2, Kobe Ahonen 4, Geoff Sheflo 3, Hunter Casper 4, Chris Pederson 3, Jamie Stall 3. FG 20-52 (38 percent), FT 6-18 (33 percent). 3-point 10-30 (33 percent).