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Boys Basketball: Brainerd stays perfect against section opponents

The Brainerd Warriors host St. Michael-Albertville in an important Section 8-4A boys basketball matchup.

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Brainerd's John Pecarich gets a rebound against STMA Thursday, March 11, at Brainerd High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Logen Roberts set up in the left corner and waited.

He said he saw Cooper Jacobs drive and knew his point guard would find him and so he waited.

The pass came and Robets didn’t hesitate. His 3-point shot made it 59-52 with just under two minutes remaining in a Section 8-4A clash with St. Michael-Albertville Thursday, March 11, at Brainerd High School.

It was just enough for Brainerd to hold off the Knights and earn their 13th-straight victory. More important, it was Brainerd’s third victory over a section opponent to help them move to 3-0 against section teams. The victory coupled with Maple Grove’s loss to Elk River Thursday night should position Brainerd in the No. 1 seed for the section tournament.

“When Cooper drove, I felt like he was going to pass it to me so I started setting up,” Roberts said. “Then as soon as he hit me I didn’t hesitate.”

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Roberts’ 3-pointer followed Griffin Rushin’s 3-pointer. Rushin led all scorers with 23 points, but it was free throws and defense that propelled the Warriors. Brainerd hit 17-of-20 from the line and held STMA to 37% shooting from the field.

“That gave us momentum, Griffin's 3 and I felt like that gave me the confidence to shoot mine,” Roberts said. “Our confidence level is very high. We have very good chemistry. We know each other very well on and off the court so I think that helps us through the game.”

Warrior head coach Charlie Schoeck agreed with Roberts on the confidence level. He said it’s more than just wins, however. He said his team trusts in the work they’ve put in to prepare for each game.

“The biggest thing with that is the trust that all the guys have in each other,” Schoeck said. “They all know that Logen puts in a countless amount of time shooting the basketball and perfecting that. They know if he’s open he’s going to have a pretty good chance of making that shot. They have the utmost confidence in each other and they’re just trying to make winning plays.”

The Knights closed to 47-45 with 8:10 remaining in the game, but Brainerd held them scoreless for the next five minutes to rebuild a 50-45 edge. Wyatt Blakstvedt hit two free throws to end the scoreless streak, but Brainerd hit 11-of-13 from the line down the stretch to preserve the victory. Blakstvedt led STMA with 15 points.

Brainerd’s only other two victories against Section 8-4A opponents came in the season-sweep of Moorhead.

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“It was a good win, but right now we’re not worried about section seeding,” Roberts said. “It’s 0-0 before every game and we focus on what team we’re playing next and try to improve.”

Brainerd Boys Basketball vs STMA

Johnny Pecarich came off the bench to score 10 points, eight in the first half. Brainerd built a 23-14 edge late in the first half, but STMA then went on an 8-2 run with four points coming off 10 Brainerd turnovers in the opening frame. Pecarich helped Brainerd rebound with an 8-2 run thanks to two free throws and the Warriors to a 30-24 lead into the half.

“When they got the ball in the post we wanted to make sure we were digging down with guys from the perimeter,” Schoeck said. “We wanted to make things tough for those guys and throw the timing off in the post. But other than that it was staying between them and the hoop. It sounds simple and easy, but it’s a lot tougher to do when an offense is dictated toward getting north-south to the hoop.

“I thought out kids did a good job of that and again that’s kind of a team thing.”

Mitchell Degen scored eight and Roberts finished with six points.

“This win was super important,” Schoeck said. “Maple Grove had their last game tonight and we’ll have one more that will be counted toward (Quality Results Formula). This should go a long way in for sure having a home game, but potentially having that first-round bye.”

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St. Michael-Albertville 24 35 -- 59
Brainerd 30 34 -- 64

ST. MICHAEL-ALBERTVILLE
Carson Radke 9, Nathan Coulson 2, Riley Purcell 9, Jack Hulting 6, Johnny Tennyson 11, Wyatt Blakstvedt 15, Dawson Noska 4, Luke Johnson 3. FG 21-57 (37%), FT 10-15 (66%). 3-point 7-21 (33%).

BRAINERD
John Pecarich 10, Mitchell Degen 8, Logen Roberts 6, Cooper Jacobs 6, Griffin Rushin 23, Nick Evanson 7, Max Lelwica 4. FG 20-48 (42%), FT 17-20 (85%). 3-point 7-16 (44%).

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Warriors 64, STMA 59

Key: Logen Roberts drained a big 3 and Brainerd hit 17-of-20 from the line

Section: Brd 3-0, STMA 3-1

Overall: Brd 13-2, STMA 6-12

Next: Brainerd at Bemidji 7:15 p.m. Friday, March 12

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