Boys Basketball: Late turnovers cost Brainerd
Sartell 70, Brainerd 68 Key: Sartell shot 91 percent from the line and 73 percent from 3-point Conf: Brd 3-5, Sar 6-3 Overall: Brd 5-10, Sar 7-8 Next: Brainerd at Fergus Falls 7:30 p.m. Monday From a percentage standpoint, Brainerd had no chance....
Sartell 70, Brainerd 68
Key: Sartell shot 91 percent from the line and 73 percent from 3-point
Conf: Brd 3-5, Sar 6-3
Overall: Brd 5-10, Sar 7-8
Next: Brainerd at Fergus Falls 7:30 p.m. Monday
From a percentage standpoint, Brainerd had no chance.
The Sartell Sabres shot 73 percent from 3-point, 53 percent from the field and 91 percent from the line. Still the Warriors held the lead until 1:53 remained before falling 70-68 Friday at Brainerd High School.
"We tried to mix up defenses, but we couldn't play zone because they're too good of a shooting team," Warriors head coach Scott Stanfield said. "We went man and I thought, especially for the last five minutes of the first half and all the second half, that we played pretty good defense.
"They are a very good shooting team and if you leave them open they make it. They make contested shots, too. I tip my hat to them. They shot the ball really well."
After trailing all but the first few seconds, a Michael Russell 3-pointer knotted the score at 48 with 8:39 remaining. Thirty seconds later, Chris Karels drained a 3-pointer off Mike Bieganek's offensive rebound to give Brainerd its first lead since owning a 2-0 edge to start the Central Lakes Conference contest. Back-to-back Russell baskets and an old-fashioned 3-point play from Bieganek gave Brainerd a 59-51 edge.
Then Sartell upped its pressure. Out of a timeout, the Sabres went to a full-court press and forced three Brainerd turnovers. Sartell scored seven points off those turnovers, including a 3-pointer from Preston Simpson at 1:53 to give Sartell a 63-61 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"Brainerd made some tough shots and we kind of struggled a little bit in the second half for a while," said Sartell head coach Marcus Oistad. "They turned up the pressure, but we did the same thing to get back in the game. We put some full-court pressure on and got a few easy ones.
"I thought we did a good job executing when we needed to down the stretch and the name of the game is making free throws at the end and the boys stepped up and did a great job."
Sartell nailed 11-of-12 free throws in the second half and finished 13-of-14 for the game. Chris Belling led Sartell with 16 points, 12 coming in the second half. Trent Meyer, who was 4-4 from the line in the final seconds, finished with 15 points and Ethan Stark scored nine of his 12 points in the first half as the Sabres hit 66 percent from 3-point and 57 percent from the field in the opening frame.
"When we move the ball we're going to get good looks and guys are really starting to look for each other," Oistad said. "They're really starting to believe in each other. That's what we talked about pregame-just believing in one another. We've done that the last three games and we've kind of been on a little roll. We found open guys."
Bieganek scored a season-high 17 points, including 13 in the second half. Brandon Burggraff and Russell each scored seven points in the first half, but it wasn't until the second half that Russell started to find his shot. The senior guard finished with a game-high 20.
Brainerd shot just 37 percent in the first half and watched Sartell use an 11-0 to start the game to claim an 11-2 lead. From there, the teams traded 3-pointers and combined for 12 in the first half. A Burggraff basket and a Russell 3-pointer and free throw cut Sartell's lead to seven at the half-34-27.
Brainerd finished the first half with seven second-chance points, while Sartell scored seven points off of six Brainerd turnovers.
"Our kids played hard, but again we're making really stupid, young mistakes," Stanfield said. "Their press wasn't much of anything, but we got trapped and threw the ball right in their hands. We just can't do that. There is not enough timeouts to use to prevent that stuff. The kids have to take it upon themselves that they're just not going to make those passes."
It's the fourth-straight loss for Brainerd, but considering Sartell bettered Brainerd 86-69 in the second-game of the season Dec. 9, the young Warriors would appear to be improving.
"I think we're improving on some things, but we need to get better at making the simple play," said Stanfield. "Right now for some reason, we want to be a little too fancy and it doesn't work. It hasn't worked all year. We need to simplify things and make sure we're catching and passing with two hands and doing all those little things like good high school basketball teams are supposed to do.
"They are improving in a lot of areas. We're moving the ball better. Bieganek played real well in the post and it's just unfortunate that this one slipped away."
Sartell 34 46-70
Brainerd 27 41-68
Brandan Walz 5, Preston Simpson 5, Jordan Och 3, Trent Meyer 15, Eric Markman 9, Chris Belling 16, Thomas Gieske 5, Ethan Stark 12. FG 23-43 (53 percent), FT 13-14 (91 percent). 3-point 10-15 (73 percent).
Ben Staehling 8, Michael Russell 20, Tanner Lundberg 3, Chris Karels 6, Joey Sauer 5, Brandon Burggraff 9, Michael Bieganek 17. FG 27-59 (46 percent), FT 2-7 (29 percent). 3-point 12-28 (43 percent).