Boys Basketball: Warriors bounce back with win against Sartell

Brainerd hosts Sartell Jan. 12

Brainerd's Luke Diem shoots a 3-pointer against Sartell on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Brainerd.
Brainerd's Luke Diem shoots a 3-pointer against Sartell on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — A balanced scoring attack led the Brainerd Warriors to an 81-70 Central Lakes Conference win over the Sartell Sabres Thursday, Jan. 12.

Four different scorers recorded 15 or more points for the Warriors in the win.

John Pecarich led the way with 20 points followed by Nick Evanson with 19 points. Another familiar face, Eli Hoelz, recorded 15 points.

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Luke Diem scored 16 points to go along with four 3-pointers.

Brainerd head coach Charlie Schoeck said the 6-foot-6 forward is gaining more confidence with each game.


“His confidence is coming along great,” Schoeck said of Diem. “We talk with all guys and Luke too about where we want them looking for shots and he’s been really good at hunting that inside-out look and then go the little baby hook on the block.”

Diem also sank four 3-pointers to have 14 points in the Warriors’ 90-81 loss to Eden Prairie Tuesday.

“I’ve just stayed in the gym shooting as much as I can,” Diem said. “It’s easy to play with everyone because it’s just a kick-out bucket every time.”

Coming into the game Thursday, Diem was the team’s leading 3-point shooter at 54.2% (13-for-24) and 60.9% (28-46) from the field.

“What he is able to do for us on the offensive end and defensive end, he is shooting one of the highest percentages for us from two and from three,” Schoeck said. “To have a guy like that who can step in confidently and hit shots when his teammates find him. He has been super valuable these last two games.”

Sartell jumped to a 19-9 lead to start. The Warriors ended the first half on a 32-12 run.

Brainerd's Nick Evanson shoots the ball against Sartell on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Brainerd.
Brainerd's Nick Evanson shoots the ball against Sartell on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd took its first lead at 29-26 on a Diem 3-pointer with four minutes left in the first half.

“We showed some resilience to take a punch in the first half,” Schoeck said. “We were being patient and staying with what we were doing. We were getting a lot of looks we were trying to get. Shots just were not falling like they were for Sartell.”


Diem scored 10 of his 16 in the first half.

Evanson started hot, making all four of his shots in the first half to finish with nine at the break. Evanson finished with a team-high eight rebounds.

Brainerd led 41-31 at half and stretched it to 49-38 on a rare 3-point basket by Jon Benson. Diem’s fourth 3-pointer gave the Warriors their largest lead at 61-48.

Sartell battled to cut the Warrior lead to 64-63 with six minutes left. The Sabres were led by Parker Knutson who scored a game-high 23 points and Gavan Schulte who scored 18.

Brainerd responded with an 11-0 run which featured Pecarich scoring seven of those to put the game out of reach. Pecarich also finished with a team-high five assists along with two blocks and two steals.

“We just had good spacing and were passing the ball tonight, not having it stick,” Diem said. “Everyone got their shots up today and were scoring really well.”

The Warriors are back in action Saturday, Jan. 14, when they host Minnetonka.

“We want to beat Minnetonka this week and that’s the goal,” Diem said. “I think everyone is playing good defense and if we move our feet a little more we will be able to beat Minnetonka this week.”


Schoeck added: “It’s going to look a lot like that Eden Prairie game as far as fast-paced, a lot of playing space and a lot of guys who are skilled offensively. We just have to stick with what we do well and take care of the basketball.”

Sartell 31 39 — 70

Brainerd 41 40 — 81


Parker Knutson 23, Gavan Schulte 18, Edward Durrwachter 4, Brady Husmann 10, Connor Bergstrom 6, Logan Legatt 3, Braydon Blonigen 6. FG 23-49 (47%), FT 13-18 (72%). 3-point 11-28 (39%).


John Pecarich 20, Eli Hoelz 15, Nick Evanson 19, Luke Diem 16, Sawyer Hennessey 2, Jonathan Benson 5, Garrett Gilbert 4. FG 32-59 (54%), FT 8-13 (62%). 3-point 9-21 (43%).

Warriors 81, Sartell 70

Key: Four different Warriors cracked 15 points or more in win
Conference: Brd 5-0, Sar 1-2.
Overall: Brd 8-1, Sar 1-9.
Next: Brainerd hosts Minnetonka 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14.

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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