STAPLES — Christmas came early for the Brainerd Warriors.
The Staples-Motley Cardinals were in a giving mood as they turned the basketball over 27 times. Brainerd capitalized and turned those into 31 points, leading to a 71-37 non-conference victory Tuesday night.
The Warriors built a 14-2 lead to start the game, with six of those points coming off turnovers. Brainerd had 19 points in the first half come off of S-M turnovers. Jake Sauer scored 11 of his 13 points in that opening frame and Tony Sauer scored eight of his 10 in that time.
“We wanted to come out and set that tempo early and get some easy baskets,” said Warriors head coach Scott Stanfield. “We wanted to put them back on their heels and that’s exactly what happened.
“We got some easy baskets. We got some inside- outside 3-pointers off the movement. Anytime you can get some tipped balls and some layups that sets a good tone.”
The Warriors used their deeper bench to wear down the Cardinals and closed out the first half with a 10-1 run for a 37-17 halftime edge.
“The last three games we’ve been playing without our point guard,” said Cardinals head coach Ray Gildow. “We have really committed a lot of turnovers. I would say on average 20 turnovers a game. We’ve also been committing a lot of bad fouls. Then tonight we just got really lazy.
“Brainerd didn’t do anything we didn’t expect them to do and they did a good job of that. We just started getting lazy on our passes and coming back on the defensive end we didn’t get back and play good defense. It was not a good performance.”
The Warriors continued the second half in the same fashion as they ended the first half. A 10-2 run gave them a 47-19 lead. That was followed by a 12-2 run and that’s when the Class 4A Warriors substituted even more. Twelve different players scored for Brainerd, including Dylan Christensen, who saw his first varsity action. Tyler Huber made a basket and Brandon Ramsdell scored four points for Brainerd.
“That was great for our team chemistry,” said Stanfield. “We have a lot of guys who work so hard in practice but just haven’t gotten a chance to see the varsity court. We played all of our kids and I thought all of our kids played pretty well.
“We grabbed Dylan Christiansen early in the second half and he hasn’t played a varsity minute yet, and I thought he handled himself very well. That was nice to see.”
Brainerd’s bench outscored S-M’s 28-5. The Cardinals were led by Grant Longbella’s 15 points. Seth Auger had nine and Kyle Jansson scored eight.
“We told our kids that Brainerd was going to play 10, maybe 13 kids tonight,” said Gildow, “but the most disappointing thing for us was our defense. We were chasing cutters. We didn’t box out.
“We just didn’t do things fundamentally right and you can’t beat anybody when you don’t do that.”
Staples-Motley 17 20 — 37
Brainerd 37 34 — 71
Kyle Jansson 8, Shane Suess 2, Jalen Busker 2, Seth Auger 9, Grant Longbella 15, Zach Borders 3. FG 13-46 (28 percent), FT 3-8 (36 percent), 3-point baskets: 6-16 (46 percent).
Blake Peterson 7, Tony Sauer 10, Jack Sauer 13, Dylan Christensen 1, Tommy Olson 5, Riley Kline 8, Ian Haug 7, Brandon Ramsdell 4, Marcus Comstock 7, Chris Bowman 2, Jacob Blong 5, Taylor Huber 2. FG 28-62 (45 percent), FT 9-16 (56 percent), 3-point baskets: 6-19 (32 percent).
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.