Boys Basketball: Warriors secure fourth straight victory with "... great team win"
With one regular-season game remaining, the Brainerd Warriors are building a head of steam for a postseason run. The Warriors chalked up their fourth straight win Thursday night with a workmanlike 67-58 victory over the Sauk Rapids Storm in the f...
With one regular-season game remaining, the Brainerd Warriors are building a head of steam for a postseason run.
The Warriors chalked up their fourth straight win Thursday night with a workmanlike 67-58 victory over the Sauk Rapids Storm in the final game of the Central Lakes Conference season. Brainerd finishes conference play 10-6 and in a 3-way tie for third place with Alexandria and St. Cloud Tech. Tech bumped off Alexandria 72-66 Thursday.
Warriors head coach Scott Stanfield said assistant coach Jeff Ramey pointed out that Brainerd has 44 wins in conference play the last four years, which according to Ramey's calculations is six more than any other school.
"We're really proud of that fact," Stanfield said, "and our kids are proud of that too because they had a big part in this the last few years of getting us to where we need to be in the conference. That stat alone, if you want to call it a stat, is really important.
Warriors 67, Sauk Rapids 58
- The key: Brainerd shot 49 percent from the field, 75 percent at the foul line.
- Conference: Brd 10-6, SR 6-10
- Overall: Brd 12-13, SR 11-15
- Next: Brainerd hosts Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"I didn't realize that until (Ramey) brought it up. That's impressive when you consider the teams in our conference over the last few years."
The Warriors appear to be playing some of their best basketball of the season. On Thursday night at Brainerd High School, they shot 49 percent from the field (21 of 43) and buried 18 of 24 free throws (75 percent).
Logan Madsen and Chris Pederson were each 5-for-6 at the line, Hunter Casper 3-4 and Michael Russell 2-2.
"It's a mentality," Pederson said of shooting free throws. "We keep practicing them. They're going to go in eventually. They have to."
Whenever the Storm made a run at Brainerd, the Warriors settled into their offense, particularly against Sauk Rapids' zone in the game's last few minutes. The Warriors patiently passed the ball around looking for layups or drove to the hoop and drew a foul.
"It's a mentality," Chris Pederson said of shooting free throws. "We keep practicing them. They're going to go in eventually. They have to."
"We haven't probably played our best game yet, but I think we're closing in on that," Stanfield said. "Sauk Rapids is a really difficult team to play. They're super athletic. They've got a really good point guard (Camden Jackson) who's hard to contain. (Kobe Boraas) is just a scoring machine. Their two big guys are good enough to do some damage so we had our hands full against them."
Brainerd led from wire to wire in the second half, but the Storm whittled their deficit to four points three times and sliced it to 54-52 with less than four minutes remaining.
Sauk Rapids trailed 61-58 with 1:06 left. Brainerd then scored the game's final six points at the line with Madsen providing five free throws and Pederson one.
"It was just our defense," Pederson said of withstanding the Storm's runs. "We just kept talking, bearing down on defense. It was a great team win."
Pederson paced Brainerd with 15 points, Kobe Ahonen added 14 and Geraets 13. Madsen, Pederson and Casper each grabbed four rebounds.
"I think our two big guys, Kobe and Chris, were the difference tonight," Stanfield said. "They ran the court really well. They got some easy layups just beating guys down the court. We really preach that in practice, getting your butt down in the lane early and we'll look up and find you. They've been buying into that and doing a nice job."
"It was just our defense," Chris Pederson said of withstanding the Storm's runs. "We just kept talking, bearing down on defense. It was a great team win."
In the first, Ahonen's posterizing slam capped a 10-point Warrior run that erased a 4-0 deficit and put Brainerd ahead 10-4. A 7-point Storm run then put Sauk Rapids in front 11-10.
The Warriors eventually got up 21-15 and embarked on a 9-point spree during which Casper contributed four points. Steve Severson's trey helped Brainerd to a 33-24 halftime edge. Brainerd forced eight Storm turnovers that produced 10 Warrior first-half points.
Jackson's 17 points led all scorers. Boraas added 14 for the Storm, who beat Brainerd 75-66 Jan. 15 at Sauk Rapids.
"We've really started to pick up our energy," Pederson said of the difference between the two games, "and we've just been getting after each other in practice and that's really carrying over to games."
Sauk Rapids 24 34 - 58
Brainerd 33 34 - 67
Mitchell Waldorf 3, Casey Lynch 3, Cody Czeck 9, Camden Jackson 17, Jacob Doman 7, Cody Landwehr 2, Kobe Boraas 14. FG 19-46 (41 percent). FT 15-19 (79 percent). 3-point 5-15 (33 percent). Turnovers: 11.
Logan Madsen 7, Jack Geraets 13, Jacob Russell 3, Chris Pederson 15, Kobe Ahonen 14, Michael Russell 5, Steven Severson 3, Hunter Casper 7. FG 21-43 (49 percent).
FT 18-24 (75 percent). 3-point 7-14 (50 percent). Turnovers: 8.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .