Jack Sauer is one of many Brainerd Warriors who have thrived with the switch to a motion offense this season.
The junior sharpshooter leads the team in scoring with 235 points through 16 games (14.7 average), scoring 20-plus in three games.
“It fits us a lot better,” Sauer said of the new offense. “We’re not the tallest team. We average about 6-foot. It gives us a chance to run around more, make the defenses tired. We have a lot of shooters on our team. This opens us up a lot.”
As talented as Sauer is offensively, he’s not a one-dimensional player. He grabs a few rebounds a game, plays defense and leads the team in assists and in steals.
“The coaches want us to get into guys when playing defense, and that’s what we’re working on, and it’s working out a lot better,” Sauer said. “I’m trying to box out so I can get more rebounds. Our practices are really intense and that helps us a lot in games.”
Warriors coach Scott Stanfield attributes much of Sauer’s success to maturing physically.
“He put a lot of time in the weight room, “ Stanfield said. “He’s getting his shot off quicker than he was even earlier in the year. When people close out on him he‘s able to get it off before they can defend him.
“His passing has improved. He’s moving the ball around. Defensively, he’s leading the team in steals. He gets his hands on a lot of balls. He’s not the quickest guy in the world but his hands are pretty quick.
“He’s an intelligent player. He’s a quiet leader, but the kids know if we need a shot he’s the guy we have to go to.”
Even though Sauer can score from anywhere on the court, his favorite shot is the three.
“I’m not the tallest so I was never a post,” he said. “I’m usually passing from the top to the post. Ever since fourth grade I started shooting it. It just kind of developed I guess.”
Stanfield has been working with Sauer on driving to the basket, pulling up and shooting a midrange jumper.
“I think that’s the last area of his game he needs to get better at, and he’s improving on that daily,” Stanfield said. “We would like to see him get to the free throw line more because he’s a very good free throw shooter.
Sauer played in offseason leagues and in Twin Cities tournaments. He went to open gyms, estimating that he took about 250 shots whenever possible.
“He’s a kid who wants to get better,” Stanfield said. “He takes instruction and coaching extremely well. He’s like his brother, Tony. They both have a desire to get better.”
Other notable efforts:
• Madison Grausam, gymnastics, won two events against Apollo.
• Mitch McLain, boys hockey, scored two goals and had three assists against Alexandria and a hat trick and assist against Apollo.
• Mara Williams, Alpine skiing, won girls races at Andes Tower Hills and at Ski Gull.
• Thor Linnerooth, Alpine skiing, won the boys race at Ski Gull.
• Allison Kosobud, Zean Baker and Riley Nelsen, Nordic skiing, won races in the CLC meet.
• Austin Annable, floor hockey, scored five goals and had three assists against Wayzata/Minnetonka.