Riley Kline was made for this.
This being the motion offense first-year head coach Scott Stanfield installed for the Brainerd Warriors.
Whether scoring or setting up teammates, Kline dissected the Pequot Lakes defense leading to a 60-58 season-opening victory Tuesday night at Brainerd High School.
Kline led all scorers with 24 points and made the key pass to Marcus Comstock, who scored in the game-winning basket with less than 20 seconds remaining.
“This offense was made for a kid like Riley,” said Stanfield. “He can get to the rim. He’s in good shape. He’s strong and I’m really proud of the way he played tonight. He led us tonight, no doubt about it.”
Kline scored 14 of his 24 points in the second half, including a string of eight-straight points that helped Brainerd to a 51-43 lead. The Warriors built that lead to 11 points before Pequot rallied.
Four Brainerd turnovers helped Pequot to a 13-0 run and a 58-56 lead at the 4:06 mark. Nevin Greer, who finished with 22 points, scored 10 of those points during Pequot’s run.
“I just think we changed our offensive set a little bit,” said Pequot Lakes head coach Garry Grewe. “We spread the floor a little bit and hit our shots.”
Brainerd corralled its composure in enough time to have Chris Bowman tie the game at 1:48 and for Comstock to hit the game winner.
“At that point you don’t know how young kids are going to respond,” said Stanfield. “We called a timeout and said ‘Let’s just get back to our motion offense and let’s make them work and we’ll get a back-door layup.’ We got a couple of those late and those are the shots you want.
“I’m very comfortable with our offense when it’s a close game because everyone is used to handling the ball. We can spread teams out and our back cuts need to be a little cleaner and quicker, but for the most part I thought our kids did a good job.”
The Warriors’ Jack Sauer scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half to help Brainerd to a 31-28 lead. Bowman and Comstock both finished with six points. The Warriors used eight Patriots’ turnovers to score 12 points and shot 5-of-11 from 3-point.
“The 3-pointers going down really helped,” said Stanfield. “Riley hit his threes. Jack Sauer can hit those. Tony (Sauer) I think was just a little nervous to start. They’re all young kids just learning, but everyone that played really contributed and I’m just really proud of them.”
Logan Lange hit four 3-pointers to finish with 14 points and Jordan Redmond scored nine of his 11 points in the first half for Pequot. The Patriots hit 6-of-9 from 3-point in the second half, but committed 11 more turnovers.
“We had trouble with their press and we shouldn’t have,” said Grewe. “We were moving the basketball, but we weren’t moving it down court. They got some easy steals on it and after a while we adapted and got a handle on it. Initially it hurt us. After that, I think we held our poise.
“We looked more like a basketball team than we did last Friday. We improved dramatically from one game to the next and we had a chance to win this game. Brainerd hit their 3-pointers and that’s what beat us. We played with a lot more poise tonight. Do we still need to clean up some stuff? Yes, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.”
Pequot Lakes 28 30 — 58
Brainerd 31 29 — 60
Nevin Greer 22, Logan Lange 14, Riley Johnson 5, Steve Duval 4, Jordan Redmond 11, Travis Jacobson 2. FG 22-45 (49 percent), FT 5-7 (71 percent), 3-point baskets: 9-17 (53 percent).
Jack Sauer 17, Tommy Olson 2, Chris Bowman 6, Riley Kline 24, Dustin Borlaug 2, Ian Haug 1, Marcus Comstock 6, Jagar Hanson 2. FG 25-47 (53 percent), FT 3-10 (30 percent), 3-point baskets: 6-16 (38 percent).
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.