Girls Basketball: Warriors finish first winning season in five years
Warriors 67, Rocori 42 The key: Eight Brainerd seniors combined to score 42 points Conference: Brd 11-5, Roc 3-13 Overall: Brd 14-11, Roc 3-23 Next: No. 7 Brainerd at No. 2 Elk River in Section 8-4A quarterfinals 7 p.m. Tuesday. Eight Brainerd Wa...
Warriors 67, Rocori 42
The key: Eight Brainerd seniors combined to score 42 points
Conference: Brd 11-5, Roc 3-13
Overall: Brd 14-11, Roc 3-23
Next: No. 7 Brainerd at No. 2 Elk River in Section 8-4A quarterfinals 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Eight Brainerd Warrior seniors played their final game on their home court Friday night.
Not only did Tedi Ramberg, Jenna Degen, Mikayla Boeder, Mikinze Boeder, Katy Johnson, Amy Southard, Ariana Huber and Abby Clanton depart on a winning note - a 67-42 victory over the Rocori Spartans. They helped Brainerd finish with a winning record for the first time in five years and hopefully pointed the program in a winning direction in the future.
"What a group of seniors," Warriors coach Troy Nelson said. "They come to work every day and practice really hard. They practice every day and do a great job. They set the tone for how you have to practice to be successful. I think that will carry forward and set a great precedent for future teams.
"You couldn't have scripted senior night any better - come out, play well. All the seniors got to play a lot of minutes tonight. You couldn't have asked for anything better."
Ramberg called the seniors' run "amazing."
"We've been through it all basically," she said. "We're just a family and a tight-knit group of girls."
Ramberg in particular has been through it all physically. She missed the last two basketball seasons and a volleyball season after undergoing reconstructive ACL surgery twice on the same knee.
"It's meant the world to get back on the court," she said. "The girls have been nothing but supportive throughout the whole thing. To get back here and play with them is probably the best feeling I could ask for."
Sophomore Kylee Heurung led the Warriors with 21 points, 17 of which she scored in the first half. Degen, a senior point guard, scored 13 points in the first half and finished with 15 points and four assists. Johnson, a senior forward, contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The Warriors finished 11-5 and in third place in the Central Lakes Conference, their highest finish in the CLC since they were runners-up in 2008-09.
In addition, Brainerd finished the regular season 14-11 overall, their first season above .500 since 2009-10.
"I'm so excited for the girls," Nelson said. "They've worked so hard. They deserve it. From when they were sophomores playing varsity to now, they've come such a long way and have gotten so much better."
Friday, Brainerd's defense barged out of the gate and smothered the Spartans. The Warriors forced six turnovers in the first three minutes and scored the game's first eight points. The Spartans finished the half with 12 turnovers, which led to 10 Brainerd points.
At the 8-minute mark of the first, Rocori had trimmed its deficit to 18-14, but the Warriors surrendered just eight more points until intermission while scoring 20. That stretch included a 14-point binge during which Degen supplied eight points.
In the first half, Heurung was 4-for-5 from behind the arc. Degen was 3-for-3 from the field and 5 of 6 at the foul line.
Unanswered Brainerd bursts of 11 and 10 points in the second half put the game away.
Brainerd has received the No. 7 seed in the Section 8-4A tournament and opens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at No. 2 Elk River. No. 6 St. Cloud Tech and No. 3 Rogers play at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Elk River.
"We were hoping for a 6," Nelson said. "A couple section games if they would have went our way we probably would have (been No. 6) but a 6 or a 7 was kind of what I thought."
Ramberg said the seniors made the most of their final game at BHS.
"Definitely we're happy with the score. We couldn't complain about that," she said. "We were happy to have all the seniors be able to get some playing time in. It was nice to have that.
"It was super emotional I thought. It was kind of hard to look up while they were doing the national anthem and know it's your last time here."
Rocori 22 20 - 42
Brainerd 38 29 - 67
Morgan Holthaus 1, Maggie Young 5, Toni Schlangen 4, Eleanor Holthaus 2, Maddie George 6, Abby Ohmann 4, Kaitlyn Hennen 1, Breanna Schouviller 10, Callie Swanberg 9. FG 18-49 (37 percent). FT 5-11 (45 percent). 3-point 1-7 (14 percent). Turnovers: 20.
Jenna Degen 15, Katy Johnson 11, Kylee Heurung 21, Ashley Huber 4, Tedi Ramberg 0, Ariana Huber 3, Abby Clanton 1, Amy Southard 2, Mikinze Boeder 6, Mikayla Boeder 4. FG 22-47 (47 percent). FT 13-24 (54 percent). 3-point 9-16 (56 percent). Turnovers: 14.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .