Girls Basketball: Warriors survive in last seconds to advance

Brainerd hosts Buffalo in Section 8-4A quarterfinals

Basketball players compete.
Brainerd's Kate Stadum looks for a hole in the Buffalo defense Thursday, March 3, 2022, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — It hasn’t happened since 2010.

The No. 3 seeded Brainerd Warriors needed an Olivia Tautges basket plus a foul with 22.2 seconds left to take a 41-39 lead against the No. 6 seeded Buffalo Bison in the Section 8-4A quarterfinals.

“I knew eventually they would call a foul,” Tautges said. “I went up as hard I could to try and get it in because I knew it was a close game and I needed to make that basket.”

Tautges’ layup seemed to hang on the rim for hours before it finally dropped in giving the Warriors a lead.

“I was praying for it to go in,” Tautges said.


Buffalo’s Brooke Gunderson missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer which would’ve won the game for the Bison as the Warriors escaped with their first section playoff win in 12 years.

“I looked at our girls and said this is what we’ve worked for all year long,” Warriors head coach Troy Nelson said.

Tautges finished with 18 points to lead the Warriors, including the last 10 Brainerd points.

“Olivia had a great night. She was super aggressive and is a mismatch for most teams and she saw that lane and got to the rim and drew contact and did a great job of finishing with the and 1,” Nelson said.

Gunderson led all scorers with 19 points, including 16 in the second half.

Brainerd jumped to a 14-4 lead to start. The Bison didn’t score until 5:20 into the game.

After a Meghan Smith layup the Warriors led 8-0, followed by back-to-back Tautges 3-pointers to make it 14-4.

“One of the things you come into a playoff game you hope you can make shots,” Nelson said. “We had some kids hit some shots early which kind of settled us down and helped us play great defense all game long.”


Then a lid went on the Warriors’ basket as Brainerd did not score a field goal the rest of half — more than 10 minutes.

The Bison took advantage and went on a 13-1 run to lead 17-15 at halftime.

“We went into that lull where they were playing a really good zone and we were struggling to get quality looks and we weren’t making the quality looks we were getting,” Nelson said.

In the second half, Myah Nelson drilled her only 3-pointer to give Brainerd the lead back 20-19.

Kate Stadum provided a spark for the Warriors in the second half when she scored seven straight points to give Brainerd a 29-23 lead.

Stadum stole a Buffalo inbound pass under its own basket and made a 3-pointer in that sequence. She finished with 12 points.

“Kate just had a look in her eye from shootaround on,” Nelson said. “She just looked like she was ready. I saw her in the halls today and she said ‘I’m excited coach.’ And she wasn’t afraid to take some of those big shots for us tonight.”

Brainerd produced its largest lead of the game at 33-23. A Gunderson 3-pointer then made it 33-26.


On Buffalo’s next possession, Gunderson was fouled on a 3-point attempt which ended up being Smith’s fifth foul.

The Warrior senior sat the final 9:22 as she picked up three first-half fouls and a quick fourth foul a minute into the second half.

“All that was going through my mind was that there was no way she could end her career this way,” Nelson said. “We have to do everything in our power to win this and give her another game. She is so important to what we do defensively. She’s another scoring threat for us and she’s a really good back door cutter to the rim, so we lost some of that.”

The momentum stayed with Buffalo and it chipped at the Warriors’ lead while sitting in a 2-3 zone. After a Barinerd turnover, Gunderson got fouled and nailed two free throws to give the Bison a 39-38 lead with a minute to play.

Both teams struggled shooting, finishing at 33%. The Warriors went 5-25 from 3-point while Buffalo was 3-20.

The Warriors advance to the Section 8-4A semifinals to play No. 2 seed Rogers. Brainerd lost to Rogers earlier in the season 64-59 at home.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” Nelson said .”I’ll go home. Calm down for a few hours and probably start watching some film. They have some good guards that we are going to have to control and I told the kids we have to go compete and whatever happens happens.”

It was the second time this season the Warriors knocked off the Bison as Brainerd beat Buffalo 48-45 at the start of the season. The last time the Warriors had a playoff home game in 2018 it was Buffalo that beat them 70-58.


Tautges said it felt good to beat Buffalo at home in front of the fans.

“It’s a great way to top off the season,” she said. “And we feel we are going to do well on Saturday.”

Buffalo 17 22 — 39

Brainerd 15 26 — 41


Brooke Gunderson 19, Lauren Feddema 6, Lindsay Hartman 3, Macie Guida 9, Brylie Guida 2. FG 13-39 (33%), FT 10-17 (59%). 3-point 3-20 (15%).


Kate Stadum 12, Myah Nelson 5, Meghan Smith 2, Olivia Tautges 18, Emma Tautges 4. FG 15-45 (33%), FT 6-10 (60%). 3-point 5-25 (20%).

No. 3 Warriors 41, No. 6 Buffalo 39

Key: Olivia Tautges’ 3-point play with 22 seconds left lifts Warriors over Bison.

Overall: Brd 21-5, Buf 9-18.

Next: Brainerd at Rogers 2 p.m. Saturday, March 5.


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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