Boys Basketball: Warriors scratch out win over Apollo
Warriors 54, Apollo 47 Key: Joey Sauer scored 10 second-half points Conf: Brd 3-3, SCA 2-5 Overall: Brd 5-6, SCA 6-9 Next: Brainerd at Buffalo 7:15 p.m. Tuesday It's better to win ugly than lose pretty and that's what happened to the Brainerd War...
Warriors 54, Apollo 47
Key: Joey Sauer scored 10 second-half points
Conf: Brd 3-3, SCA 2-5
Overall: Brd 5-6, SCA 6-9
Next: Brainerd at Buffalo 7:15 p.m. Tuesday
It's better to win ugly than lose pretty and that's what happened to the Brainerd Warriors Friday.
Brainerd shot 29 percent from the field and turned the ball over 11 times, but still managed a 54-47 Central Lakes Conference victory over the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles at Brainerd High School.
The victory pushes Brainerd's win streak to three games and improves its conference record to 3-3.
"Walking into the locker room, I talked with Michael (Russell) and we both said 'A win is a win, but this was darn ugly,' I'll admit that," said Brainerd head coach Scott Stanfield. "It's better to win ugly than lose ugly."
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Ben Staehling and Joey Sauer helped the Warriors finally grab some breathing room in the second half at 47-37. Five straight points from freshman guard Keshawn Johnson closed the score to 47-42, but Brandon Burggraff and Mike Bieganek drained four free throws to push Brainerd's lead back to nine points.
"We moved the ball a lot more and that really helped us," said Sauer. "That allowed us to get better shot selection and a few more inside-out 3-pointers.
"You just have to stay focused and then if you can get some good passes on the offense that really helps out."
Michael Russell led the team with 15 points, but suffered a cold shooting night. Sauer finished with 13 points-10 of which came in the second half.
"I wrote three words on the board at halftime-'Pass the ball," said Stanfield. "I thought we were shooting way too quick, too many times. Then when we got into the second half we got some better looks, but they still didn't go in. We got better looks and popped in a couple and found some guys underneath.
"That first half, I haven't seen our team play like that. It was really confusing for me because we were coming off a really good week of practice and for some reason we weren't sharing the ball very well or moving to get people open."
Brandon Burggraff tallied nine and Chris Karels scored seven for the Warriors, who built a 30-23 lead early in the second half only to have Apollo scrape back with a 7-0 run to tie it. Johnson, who scored a game-high 22 points, tallied five of those points.
"We would build a lead and then do a couple of stupid things," Stanfield said. "This team, and us as coaches, really have to figure out that portion of our game. I thought the last two games against Willmar and Moorhead, we didn't have that. We were very good with the ball, but for some reason tonight they kind of dragged us down and were just good enough defensively to create some problems. They are a quick team, but we didn't play well."
Brainerd jumped out to a 12-5 lead early thanks to seven quick points from Russell. The Warriors' most recent 1,000-point scorer then went cold. Apollo answered with an 8-0 run to claim a 13-12 edge. Six lead changes and two ties ensued before Russell hit consecutive field goals to give Brainerd a 24-21 edge. Johnson sank a basket before the half for a 24-23 halftime score.
The Warriors shot 26 percent in the first half (8-of-31), but were 4-4 from the line. Apollo shot 39 percent in the opening frame, but committed nine turnovers. Brainerd scored six points off those turnovers.
Brainerd's defense held Apollo to 9-of-28 shooting in the second half and the Warriors improved by hitting 45 percent (9-20) in the second half.
"Our confidence is getting better," Sauer said. "We knew we were a young team, but we knew we could get past that and get some wins. We started out not so good early, but we're picking it up now."
Apollo 23 24-47
Brainerd 24 30-54
ST. CLOUD APOLLO
Abdihakim Sukri 11, Elijah Edwards 2, Michael Gravelle 2, Keshawn Johnson 22, Clifton Paterson 2, Logan Johnson 2, John Blommel 5, Luke Dunsmoor 1. FG 18-51 (35 percent), FT 5-11 (45 percent). 3-point 5-13 (38 percent).
Ben Staehling 6, Michael Russell 15, Chris Karels 7, Joey Sauer 13, Brandon Burggraff 9, Michael Bieganek 4. FG 15-51 (29 percent), FT 10-13 (77 percent). 3-point 10-32 (31 percent).