Girls Basketball: Warriors head to Elk River for section quarterfinals

The Brainerd Warriors will face no. 3 seeded Elk River in the Section 8-4A Quarterfinals.

Troy Nelson
Troy Nelson
Kelly Humphrey

BRAINERD — With the No. 6 seed, the Brainerd Warriors postseason will start on the road.

The 9-16 Warriors will open the Section 8-4A bracket at No. 3 seeded Elk River (20-6) 6 p.m. Thursday, March 2. The Elks were ranked 14 in the final Minnesota Basketball News Top 20 Poll for Class 4A.

Brainerd hosted the Elks Dec. 29 and fell 64-20, but Warriors head coach Troy Nelson believes he’s got a different team taking the court this time.

“We were still super young and yet to figure out how to play together and how to handle things,” Nelson said. “I think we’ve gotten a heck of a lot better since then. I’m excited to see how much progress we made. We’ll go down and battle Elk River and try to get a section win on the road.”

The Elk River loss was followed by a victory over Moorhead and then an eight-game losing streak. Brainerd regrouped and finished the regular season with a 5-5 record.


“These last four weeks we have taken leaps and bounds,” Nelson said. “We’ve gotten so much better. The kids are trusting each other. We’re working our defense a lot more and we’re scoring more. We’re getting good looks at the basket and they’re going in.

“This last week, we played two good teams and I thought we battled both of them really well. Alexandria is a very good team. They finished undefeated in our conference. They kind of got us in the first half, but we outscored them in the second half. The last four weeks, you could just see us getting better and better.”

The Elks have won 15 of their last 16 games. The lone loss came against No. 2 seeded Rogers Feb. 21. They are 10-3 at home and finished 5-2 against section opponents.

Elk River finished ahead of Rogers in the Quality Results Formula with a rating of 199.2 compared to the Royals' 194.8, but the head-to-head matchup went to Rogers.

The Elks have outscored their opponents 63.0 to 48.3.

“We have to take care of the basketball,” Nelson said. “I think last time we played them we turned the ball over more than 30 times. We can’t do that again. We have to take care of the basketball. We have to work for good shots and do a great job on the defensive end of taking care of our gaps and making them hit contested shots.”

The Other quarterfinal matchups will pit No. 7 Moorhead (7-18) at No. 2 seeded and No. 13 ranked Rogers (20-6). No. 5 Bemidji (13-12) will face No. 4 Sartell (19-7) and the top-seeded and Class 4A’s No. 3 ranked St. Michael-Albertville (23-3) will face the winner of No. 9 Buffalo (4-22) vs. No. 8 St. Cloud (10-16). That game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 in St. Cloud.

The section semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, March 4, at the high seed. The Section 8-4A final will be 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at a neutral site to be determined.


Mya Tautges leads the Warriors’ offense with 7.1 points per game. She’s followed by Kate Stadum’s 6.5 points and Karley Dunham’s 6.3 points per game. Tautges (127) and Dunham (126) are one rebound apart for the team lead and Stadum leads the team with 54 assists followed by Tautges’ 52.

“There was a spot in the season where the girls could have just cashed it in and said OK. That’s it,” Nelson said. “They didn’t. They bought in. They kept working. They bought in defensively on what we were going to do. Then the confidence on offense and handling that pressure; a lot of them are super young and had never seen varsity pressure before and unfortunately you have to see it. You have to learn from it and you have to make mistakes to get better. They kept working hard and they started to handle it more and we’ve found success a lot more that way.”

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