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Girls Basketball: Warriors rally again to beat Flyers

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Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Persistence.

Katy Johnson had it Tuesday.

Maria West did, too, as the lone Brainerd Warrior senior wasn’t going to be denied her moment to shine at Brainerd High School.

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The two varsity veterans hit key shots down the stretch to lead Brainerd to a 49-45 victory over the Little Falls Flyers.

For the second straight game the Warriors rallied for a victory. On Monday, Brainerd overcame a 35-21 halftime deficit to beat Sartell 69-64.

Tuesday, Brainerd trailed the Flyers 25-20 at the break. The Warriors forced the Flyers into 13 turnovers and hit 11-of-13 free throws in the second half for their ninth win of the season.

“We ramped up the pressure and did a much better job defensively in the second half,” said Brainerd head coach Troy Nelson. “We changed what we were doing offensively. We went to our man offense against that 1-2-2 zone and it just created more lanes for us. We are more comfortable running that offense. It looked like we were more comfortable on offense in the second half.”

Brainerd trailed by as many as nine points in the second half and never led until Johnson hit a running jumper and was fouled. The junior forward hit the free throw to hand Brainerd a 45-44 lead. It was the Warriors’ first lead since early in the first half.

Prior to her old-fashioned 3-point play, Johnson drained a 3-pointer. That basket came after she missed her first seven shots.

“We tell the kids that we’re never going to tell you not to shoot,” said Nelson. “If we’re in rhythm, we’ll live with it — make or miss.

“The nice thing about Katy is she is a very good driver to the basket. So when she’s kind of cold that’s what we tell her — ‘Get to the rim’ — and she does that very well.”

Johnson finished with eight points. Kylee Heurung, who battled foul trouble, tallied nine and Jenna Degen scored eight.

West, who was held scoreless in the first half, ignited Brainerd’s comeback. She finished with four steals and scored all 14 of her points in the second half.

“I hate to say it, but we’ve done pretty well in the first half in a lot of games this year, but we don’t know how to win yet,” said Flyers head coach Trent Grams. “We want our young girls to win now and we want our older girls to be very good spark plugs coming off the bench. I thought they did that tonight. But at the end of games we sometimes get on our toes because we haven’t learned how to be the aggressor yet. When we do, we’ll get some more wins. But right now we’re still trying to find a way to get it done.”

Little Falls was held to 7-of-25 shooting in the second half and Brainerd turned the ball over just seven times, compared to 12 in the first half.

The Flyers’ Mikayla Burns, who led all scorers with 16 points, was held to just four in the second half.

It was Burns’ second-chance points that helped the Flyers to a 25-20 halftime lead. Of Burns’ 12 first-half points, eight of them came off of offensive rebounds. The sophomore post finished with 12 boards.

“I think Mikayla Burns really stepped up tonight,” said Grams. “We start five sophomores and she’s just kind of coming into her own. She hasn’t played a whole lot of varsity minutes so far this year. She really crashed the boards and we were fortunate enough that she was alone when she caught it. It helps when you’re alone.

“We’re so very pleased with her effort.”

Trailing 11-9, The Flyers went on a 10-2 run and outscored the Warriors 16-6 down the stretch with Burns scoring eight in that time.

Sarah Gold added eight points and Jordan Schuett scored six for the Flyers.

“I just didn’t think our effort was what it needed to be,” said Nelson. “We talk a lot about rebounding being all about effort and desire. I thought we did a better job in the second half.”

Little Falls 25 20 — 45

Brainerd 17 32 — 49

LITTLE FALLS

Laura Moe 2, Heidi Moe 4, Jordan Schuett 6, Sarah Gold 8, Melanie Dorn 5, Laura Fregin 4, Mikayla Burns 16. FG 17-52 (33 percent), FT 10-14 (71 percent). 3-point 1-8 (13 percent).

BRAINERD

Jenna Degen 8, Katy Johnson 8, Maria West 14, Abby Clanton 4, Mikinze Boeder 6, Kylee Heurung 9. FG 15-59 (25 percent), FT 18-23 (78 percent). 3-point 1-16 (6 percent).

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

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Jeremy Millsop
My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.
(218) 855-5856
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