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Girls Basketball: Spuds sink undermanned Warriors

Moorhead hosts Brainerd Tuesday, Jan. 11

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BRAINERD — Without starter Meghan Smith and role player Kylie Johnson, the Class 4A’s 18th-ranked Brainerd Warriors couldn’t overcome their cold 27% shooting in a 49-37 Section 8-4A loss to the Moorhead Spuds Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Brainerd jumped to a 5-1 lead which would be the Warriors’ only lead of the game.

Spuds’ Alicia Maddux finished with a game-high 20 points off the bench and poured in six 3-pointers in the first half to help Moorhead get a 26-16 advantage at intermission.

“It’s a senior playing like a senior,” Spuds head coach Tom Dryburgh said. “You want your seniors to step up in big moments especially on the road. Her being able to come in and light that fire and give us that belief definitely helped us.”

The Warriors played their 1-3-1 in the first half and Moorhead shot over it with seven 3-pointers total.

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“I thought we came in with a really good plan coming, but we had to change it at the last minute,” Warriors head coach Troy Nelson said. “I just put that on myself. I must not have done a good enough job making those changes tonight. It just looked like in the first half we were trying to do a little bit too much.”

Brainerd switched to man-to-man defense to start the second half and rattled off a quick 5-0 run to cut the deficit in half.

Moorhead’s Haley Oberg, who went scoreless in the first half, scored a team-high 11 points in the second half and put the Spuds back up by double digits with a layup.

The Spuds stretched their lead to 41-26 with under eight minutes to play before the Warriors bursted out on a 7-0 run.

Emma Tautges’ third 3-pointer made it 41-34 with four minutes left and it was the closest the Warriors would get as Moorhead responded with a 6-0 run on Oberg’s free throws and a Maddux layup.

“We’ve been playing some tough games on the road,” Dryburgh said. “And we feel like that is an important thing for us to do. I think we just had to come in and play with confidence and they are starting to believe in themselves a little more.”

Offensive rebounds plagued the Warriors as Moorhead grabbed 14 of them total.

“I think that for us to get multiple possessions and use our size to our advantage is really important,” Dryburgh said. “Rebounding is about heart and I thought we played with a lot of heart.”

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Most of the offensive rebounds came in the first half and it is one of the reason’s Nelson decided to stop playing zone.

“I thought we could maybe cause some turnovers in our zone,” Nelson said. “We did a little bit in the first half and they are a little bit bigger than we are, so I wasn’t sure if they were going to pound the paint. We just got killed on the boards, so we decided to go to man just so we could find (Maddux) and be better at rebounding.”

Olivia Tautges led Brainerd with 11 points Emma Tautges finished with nine points with her three 3-pointers.

The loss drops the Warriors to 7-2. It’s also their second section loss of the season. Brainerd hopes to flush the loss before Friday’s matchup against St. Cloud.

“It’s just disappointing,” Nelson said. “We will give it 24 hours. I have to flush it first before I can help the girls flush it.”

Moorhead 26 23 — 49

Brainerd 16 21 — 37

MOORHEAD

Tori Hagen 1, Anna Nelson 2, Kate Gulbranson 8, Alicia Maddux 20, Grace Perry 5, Haley Oberg 11, Rosie Anderson 2. FG 14-42 (33%), FT 13-25 (52%). 3-point 8-29 (28%).

BRAINERD

Kate Stadum 5, Myah Nelson 3, Karley Dunham 2, Mya Tautges 3, Olivia Tautges 11, Emma Tautges 9, AJ Johnson 4. FG 12-44 (27%), FT 7-13 (54%). 3-point 6-25 (24%).

Moorhead 49, Warriors 37

Key: Moorhead’s hot first-half shooting too much for Brainerd to overcome.

Overall: Brd 7-2, M 3-7.

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Next: at St. Cloud 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Olivia Tautges
Olivia Tautges

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