Boys Basketball: Spuds down Brainerd again in playoffs

Brainerd at Moorhead in the Section 8-4A Semifinals Wednesday, March 15

Moorhead’s Adam Jenkins blocks a shot from Brainerd’s Nick Evanson during the Section 8AAAA boys basketball semifinals on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Moorhead High School.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

MOORHEAD — For the fourth season in a row it’s the Moorhead Spuds who eliminate the Brainerd Warriors in the Section 8-4A playoffs.

Behind a 48-point second half, the No. 2 seeded Spuds beat the No. 3 seeded Warriors 77-70 in the Section 8-4A Semifinals Wednesday, Mach 15.

Adam Jenkins led the Spuds with 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting. Colton Hagen added 18 points for Moorhead, while Dylan Zimmerman chipped in 13 and DJ Smith 12.

“They had some guys who stepped up and made some shots,” Warriors head coach Charlie Schoeck said. “You have to pay a lot of attention to Jenkins and a lot of their guys when the skip pass found them hit a shot or took it off the dribble.”

Seniors Johnny Pecarich and Nick Evanson emptied the tank in their final games. Pecarich scored 30 points and Evanson 25 to pace the Warriors’ offense.


Pecarich scored four straight baskets to start the second half and the Warriors led 43-39 three minutes into the half.

With the Warriors leading 54-52, the Spuds went on a 9-0 run, which included a Jenkins 3-pointer to give Moorhead a 61-54 lead with seven minutes left.

Brainerd’s Nick Evanson shoots two against Moorhead’s Jaden Griffin during the Section 8AAAA boys basketball semifinals on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Moorhead High School.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Evanson made another 3 to make it 61-58, but the Spuds went on a 9-2 run to take their largest lead at 70-60 with 3:44 left.

Eli Hoelz scored two straight baskets followed by an Evanson 3-pointer to make it 72-68. A Zimmerman layup was the nail in the coffin for Brainerd’s season.

Schoeck said the Spuds getting most of the 50-50 balls in the second half played a big role.

“A lot of 50-50 balls and loose rebounds found their way into Moorhead’s hands for second-chance points,” Schoeck said. “It didn’t bounce our way and sometimes you just have those games.”

The Spuds outrebounded the Warriors 37-24, which included 12 offensive rebounds.

Brainerd’s John Pecarich shoots three against Moorhead’s Michael Haugo during the Section 8AAAA boys basketball semifinals on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Moorhead High School.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Pecarich nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Warriors a 32-29 halftime lead.


The 3-pointer couldn’t have come at a better time for Brainerd as the Spuds were in a 12-2 run at the end of the first half to tie the game.

Brainerd used a 12-0 spurt of its own to take its largest lead of the first half at 27-17.

The Warriors jumped to an 8-2 lead highlighted by a 3-point play by Pecarich and one of Eli Hoelz’s two first-half 3s.

Evanson put in nine of his 25 in the first half.

The Spuds took their first lead at 17-15, which was at the end of an 8-0 run.

Pecarich finished 12-27 from the field, including three 3-pointers. Evanson shot 10-13 with four 3-pointers. Hoelz finished with 11 points. Those three combined for 66 of Brainerd’s 70 points.

“These guys never quit and never gave up,” Schoeck said. “There were a lot of times in that second half where a lesser team would’ve found a way to quit when Moorhead was going on a run. These guys didn’t and that’s been the story all season long. Regardless of the score, we never gave up on a game.”

The Warriors finish the season with a 22-6 record. Moorhead advances to play top-seeded Buffalo in the Section 8-4A Finals Friday, March 17.


Moorhead 29 48 — 77

Brainerd 32 38 — 70


Colton Hagen 18, Michael Haugo 2, Dylan Zimmerman 13, DJ Smith 12, Adam Jenkins 23, Brian Zarazua Jr. 9. FG 32-62 (51.6%). 3-point 6-21 (28.6%). FT 7-12 (58.3%).


John Pecarich 30, Eli Hoelz 11, Nick Evanson 25, Jonathan Benson 2, Garrett Gilbert 2. FG 28-56 (50%). 3-point 10-27 (37%). FT 4-5 (80%).

Moorhead 77, Brainerd 70

Key: Moorhead’s size proved to be too much for Brainerd in the second half.
Overall: Brd 22-6, M 20-8.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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