Boys Basketball: A buzz could be brewing for Brainerd basketball

While he'll have to wait and see how his coaching philosophies mesh with his roster, one thing first-year head coach Charlie Schoeck can promise is his team will be worth the price of admission. Athleticism and versatility will be keys to the Bra...

First-year Brainerd head coach Charlie Schoeck watches Joey Sauer demonstrate proper shooting technique at practice this week.
First-year Brainerd head coach Charlie Schoeck watches Joey Sauer demonstrate proper shooting technique at practice this week. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch


While he'll have to wait and see how his coaching philosophies mesh with his roster, one thing first-year head coach Charlie Schoeck can promise is his team will be worth the price of admission.

Athleticism and versatility will be keys to the Brainerd Warriors season and with a top goal of having fun, fans should, too.

"There's probably six guys on our team that can really play above the rim and finish with some exciting plays," Schoeck said. "That's going to be fun to watch."

Third-year starter Joey Sauer will play a large role in the Warriors' success this season. Last year, Sauer averaged 13 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.7 assists. He shot 49.6 percent from the field and 71.7 percent from the line.


"This year, we're going to try and play through him a little bit more," Schoeck said. "He's a very unselfish guy so we're going to try and get him his shots instead of having him hunt for them because he's not going to go hunting for his shots a lot. So we'll try and get him in positions where he's going to be the guy with the ball in his hands. His scoring is going to be big for us."

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Brainerd Warriors

  • Head coach: Charlie Schoeck, 1st year
  • 2017-18 record: CLC: 8-8, Section 8-4A: 1-6, Overall: 9-18
  • Career record: 0-0
  • Returning starters: Joey Sauer
  • Captains: Mason Malone, Sauer
  • Assistant coaches: Brian Gustafson, Derek Hendrickson, Grant Gmeinder, Kyle Crocker, Josh Rudbeck

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Last year, Sauer played the top of Brainerd's zone defense and his length and intelligence were keys. Sauer isn't the only Warrior with those attributes.

Schoeck said point guard Mason Malone is an extension of the coaching staff. The two-year varsity player averaged 5.5 points, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 rebounds last year.

"His play in the pick-and-roll game is very good," Schoeck said. "His quickness is a big factor in that, but much like Joey, he knows how to play the game the right way and knows how to read the defense and see things a play or two ahead. He can anticipate what his defender or the screener's defender is going to do and then make good decisions from there.

"He knows the pace we want to play and the other stuff we want to get into during certain parts of the game."


Mismatches are one thing Schoeck hopes to exploit with his team's versatility. He believes Sauer and junior post, Owen Davis, give him the best chances of creating mismatches.

"One of the biggest things with him, similar to Joey, and if we have a lineup where it's Joey and Owen playing the 4 and 5, Owen is undoubtedly going to have someone slower than him guard him," Schoeck said. "Owen is a very deceptively fast guy. I see him running from block-to-block beating his defender down the floor and getting easy buckets.

"He's a very good shooter as well so him stepping out and shooting from the perimeter and drawing those big guys out is going to be huge."

Last year, Davis averaged 3.9 points and 1.7 rebounds a game.

Along with Davis, this will be Ben Staehling's third year on the varsity. Staehling averaged 4.1 points and 1.2 rebounds

"He is an athlete that is a very good basketball player, too," Schoeck said. "You watch him play football and basketball and the athleticism jumps out at you, but he's a very skilled basketball player who can shoot the ball and handle the ball. He can defend pretty much every position on the floor, which is a great thing. The combination of his speed and his strength allows him to guard positions 1 through 5."

Staehling's athleticism will be key in Brainerd's up-tempo style of offense. During Brainerd's scrimmage at Burnsville, Schoeck said his team shined when it pushed the pace. Having players like Staehling, Gabe Smith, Connor Powers and Eric Martin fill lanes, hit shots and dribble drive will make Brainerd a tough team to guard.

"It's going to be key. That's when I think we're playing our best is when we're getting out and running," Schoeck said. "The thing is, that's dangerous in the halfcourt, too, with athletes and versatile players like this is we've run the five-out offense before, but now there's another element where all five of those guys can take their guy off the dribble too. The focus has been to create dribble-drive opportunities and either dumping it off or kicking it out for a 3.


"The hardest thing to do in basketball is guarding a guy driving to the hoop. It's hard to stay in front of them. If we can do that 1 through 5 that's a pretty dangerous thing."

Brainerd will pick its spots defensively when it wants to turn up the pressure, but it will be a key component to that up-tempo style Schoeck hopes to employ.

Last year, Willmar ran away with the conference title finishing 15-1. Fergus Falls and St. Cloud Tech tied for second with 12-4 records. Brainerd tied for fifth with Alexandria with an 8-8 mark.

The Warriors were just 9-15 overall and just 1-6 against Section 8-4A teams.

Maple Grove won the section for the third straight year.

While Schoeck believes his team will give all opponents all they can handle, the first-year head coach was quick to cement the foundation of his program with four key components.

"No. 1 is, control the controllables," Schoeck said. "Bring a great attitude every day and bring your best effort every time you're on the court. Those are the two non negotiables. We have to have those if you want to get on the court.

"Then we're really boiling it down to two goals every day and those are to improve every day. Do something that makes you better than you were yesterday and then the last goal is to have fun. To me, that's the biggest one. This is basketball. Every time we're on the court we should be enjoying it.


"So those four things-attitude, effort, improvement and fun-have been the pillars of what we're doing."


Warriors roster

Seniors: Mason Malone (guard), Eric Martin (guard), Gabe Smith (guard/forward), Joey Sauer (forward), Jayce Schroeder (forward)

Juniors: Ben Staehling (guard), Tanner Mackereth (guard), Presley Severson (guard), Owen Smith (forward), Connor Powers (guard), Taylor Heurung (forward), John Berry (forward), Jonah Macejkovic (forward), Manni Ukutegbe (forward)

Sophomores: Griffin Rushin (forward), Max Lelwica (guard/forward)

Freshmen: Nathaniel Staehling (guard/forward)



Warrior schedule

Thursday, Nov. 29, St. Michael-Albertville 7:15 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 1, Brainerd vs. Buffalo at Monticello 2 p.m.

Dec. 6, at Fergus Falls 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 7, at Sauk Rapids 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 11, Rocori 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 14, at Cambridge 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 18, at Rogers 7:15 p.m.


Dec. 28, Elk River 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 4, at St. Cloud Tech 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 10, Alexandria 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 12, Willmar 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 15, at St. Cloud Apollo 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 18, Sauk Rapids 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 19, at New Prague 3 p.m.

Jan. 22, at Duluth East 7 p.m.

Jan. 24, Fergus Falls 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 1, at Sartell 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 2, Wayzata 3 p.m.

Feb. 12, St. Cloud Tech 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 19, at Alexandria 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 21, St. Cloud Apollo 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 26, at Bemidji 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 28, Moorhead 7:15 p.m.

March 1, at Sartell 7:15 p.m.

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