It did not come easy, but the Brainerd Warriors found a way to beat the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks 49-44 Monday, Feb. 10, at Brainerd High School.
Both teams shot under 40% from the field and points were hard to come by. The Warriors — led by Erika Lane’s 16 points — were the more patient team on offense and hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Lane started the game hot for Brainerd. She scored 11 the Warriors’ first 12 points going 3-for-4 from behind the 3-point line.
“We came out and we were really patient and we were running our offense and she was waiting for her opportunities,” Warriors head coach Troy Nelson said of Lane. “She took advantage of those opportunities when they presented themselves and knocked down the shots.”
Lane felt comfortable and took the open shots the defense gave her.
“We were really moving the ball well and got open shots,” Lane said. “We set really good picks at the beginning and just moved the ball around.”
An Olivia Tautges 3-point play gave the Warriors a 27-24 lead at halftime.
It was back and forth to start the second half with teams trading one point leads. A mini 9-1 run pushed Brainerd’s lead up to 43-37, its largest of the game, with under five minutes remaining.
After Mya Roberts of Grand Rapids went on her own 5-0 run the lead was down to one when Brainerd called timeout.
Out of the timeout, Lane converted on a layup and then a long pass by Tautges to Myah Nelson put Brainerd back up by five points to close it out.
Grace Zimmerman tallied 10 points and six rebounds while Tautges finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Myah Nelson scored all nine of her points in the second half.
Brainerd took care of the basketball committing only five turnovers. The Thunderhawks won the rebounding battle 36-32, but went 3-of-7 from the free throw line.
Grand Rapids had three players score in double figures with Roberts and Braya LaPlant both leading them with 11 points.
Troy Nelson loves to see his team play with patience on the offensive end, which is what he saw against Grand Rapids.
“We just have to run our offense, and run our offense to get good shots,” Troy Nelson said. “The game finished a little closer than it needed it to be. We missed some bunnies in the second half, but I was really proud of us for battling and being patient in the offense and waiting for that good shot.
“The last six games we have been running our offense to perfection I think. … We are just patient and giving what the defense gives us. No one likes to play defense so when we can have a possession that lasts 45 seconds to a minute at a time, people open up for good shots.”
Defensively, Troy Nelson feels his team is getting better at securing the rebound so the opponent gets one shot.
“That was a good team we played tonight,” Troy Nelson said. “We came out and we have to play great defense and I thought we did a really good job of that. We took away their 3-point shooters for the most part.
“We were in our gaps tonight. They were setting a lot of ball screens and we were doing a good job switching them and taking away their slips and getting out on their shooters. I thought we did a great job and held them to one shot, which is what we needed to do.”
Moving forward, the win puts Brainerd at 11-10 for the season. They will be on the road Tuesday, Feb. 11, against Rocori and will come home Thursday to play Class 3A’s 13th-ranked Alexandria.
“We just have to keep playing patient and play as a team and we will do good,” Lane said. “We have been doing that past few games and it has been going well for us.”
For more photos of the game go to https://bit.ly/2OK7nfd.
Grand Rapids 24 20 -- 44
Brainerd 27 22 -- 49
Mya Roberts 11, Taryn Hamling 10, Jenny Bowman 4, Emma Markovich 4, Maddi McKinney 4, Braya LaPlant 11. FG 18-51 (35%), FT 3-7 (43%). 3-point 5-20 (25%).
Myah Nelson 9, Ally Brzezinski 4, Olivia Tautges 10, Grace Zimmerman 10, Erika Lane 16. FG 17-51 (33%), FT 10-13 (77%). 3-point 5-18 (28%).
Warriors 49, Grand Rapids 44
Key: Patience offensively and getting stops defensively was the difference in the Warriors’ home win over Grand Rapids.
Overall: Brd 11-10, GR 10-13.
Next: at Rocori 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11.