Boys Basketball: Warriors clinch back-to-back CLC titles with blowout of Tech
Brainerd hosts St. Cloud Tech Tuesday, Feb. 28
BRAINERD — On senior night, the Brainerd Warriors clinched their second straight Central Lakes Conference title with a 92-64 win over St. Cloud Tech Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Unlike last year, Brainerd won’t have to share the trophy with another school as the blowout win moved them to 15-0 in CLC play making them outright conference champions.
“It’s a really big deal,” Charlie Schoeck said. “It’s a credit to all the guys we have had in the program the last five years.”
It is the first time Brainerd has been back-to-back CLC champions since the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. It’s the Warriors’ first outright title since the 2012-13 season.
“It gives us a milestone in Brainerd school history which is hype,” senior Nick Evanson said. “There was a little more energy in the gym tonight because it was senior night, but I don’t think anyone was nervous.”
Johnny Pecarich scorched the net for 28 points, 22 of which came in the first half. The senior knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half to help the Warriors to a 54-29 halftime lead
“Johnny was hitting some 3s early and then he was able to take it off the dribble,” Schoeck said. “He was also finding open shooters when the help came.”
It’s always good to get a trophy on senior night! pic.twitter.com/zL1pYI5ikN— Conrad Engstrom (@the_rad34) March 1, 2023
Evanson tallied 24 points and seven rebounds. He recorded 12 points in each half all coming in the paint.
“They were putting guys on me who I knew I could take to the rack and that’s what I did,” Evanson said.
Schoeck added: “With Nick, one of the keys with him is when he plays as one of our bigs they are forced to put someone on him who can’t stay with him off the dribble and that’s what was the case tonight.”
Evanson was quick to praise Pecarich’s first-half performance.
“When he goes off like that it opens up everything for us,” Evanson said. “We get a lot of open looks because they are busy face-guarding him.”
Evanson was also tasked with guarding Tech’s star Tameron Ferguson, who averages 31 points a game. Ferguson finished with 28 points on 11-of-24 shooting.
“I wanted to do my best to keep him in front and force him left,” Evanson said. “He can just make tough shots with a hand in his face, so it’s hard to guard him.”
Final: Brainerd 92, St Cloud Tech 64— Conrad Engstrom (@the_rad34) March 1, 2023
Warriors are the outright Central Lakes Conference Champions
The dynamic duo of Nick Evanson (24) and Johnny Pecarich (28) dazzled the crowd with 52 points combined.
Schoeck added: “Ferguson is a guy where you are not going to shut him out. Nick did a great job of making him work for everything he got tonight and really he was able to stay in front and force him to take some tough shots.”
The Warriors jumped to a 13-5 lead three minutes in and never looked back. Pecarich nailed three 3-pointers in a row and after a Luke Diem 3, it was 32-17 Warriors halfway through the first half.
Brainerd then stormed to a 12-0 run to lead 44-19.
“We came out of the gates with energy,” Schoeck said. “The message was to turn our defense into offense tonight and not try to get too cute on offense. I think that’s what we did right away.”
Brainerd torched the net all night shooting 54.7% from the field and 38.7% from 3-point. Eli Hoelz finished with 14 points and five assists while Diem added 10.
Seniors Sawyer Hennessey and Henry Hopkins found the scoring column on senior night. Hennessey, who was inserted into the starting lineup, finished with eight points and Hopkins got six points in the second half.
Brainerd leads 29-17 with 9:43 left in first half. Johnny Pecarich sizzling right now with 16 points on 4 3-pointers.— Conrad Engstrom (@the_rad34) March 1, 2023
The Warriors end the regular season against Alexandria Friday, Feb. 28, hoping to finish the conference schedule undefeated while also improving their Quality Results Formula ahead of Section 8-4A seeding.
“The conference is locked, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still gain some considerable QRF points that might change playoff-wise,” Schoeck said. “And we talk about history with guys too. In the 42-year history of the Central Lakes Conference, there have been only six teams who have had undefeated conference records, so we are shooting for some history as well.
Brainerd is the last team to finish with an undefeated conference record when they finished 16-0 in 2012-13.
“We need to keep playing how we are playing and get better, so we can hopefully go to state this year,” Evanson said.
St. Cloud Tech 29 35 — 64
Brainerd 54 38 — 92
ST. CLOUD TECH
Tameron Ferguson 28, Connor Sanchez 4, Jaden Harris 1, Warsame Mahat 6, Spencer Swenson 7, Giordan Easley 11, Drew Lieser 1, Sam McCarthy 6. FG 26-59 (44.1%), FT 9-14 (64.3%). 3-point 3-19 (15.8%).
John Pecarich 28, Eli Hoelz 14, Nick Evanson 24, Luke Diem 10, Henry Hopkins 6, Sawyer Hennessey 8, Garrett Gilbert 2. FG 35-64 (54.7%), FT 10-13 (76.9%). 3-point 12-31 (38.7%).
Warriors 92, St. Cloud Tech 64
Key: Dominant first half clinches second straight Central Lakes Conference title for the Warriors
Conference: Brd 15-0, Tech 12-3.
Overall: Brd 21-4, Tech 12-10.
Next: Brainerd at Alexandria 7:15 p.m. Friday, March 3.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.