When the Brainerd Warriors clipped the Alexandria Cardinals 64-63 at Alexandria Dec. 22 they needed a last-second shot by Tony Sauer to win.
In Monday night’s Central Lakes Conference rematch at Brainerd High School, the Warriors didn’t need any late heroics. They built a big lead and held off the Cardinals for a 67-58 win.
The Warriors’ defense and opportunism overcame Alexandria’s size. Brainerd converted 18 Cardinal turnovers into 21 points. The Warriors’ sticky defense caused Alexandria to shoot just 38 percent from the field.
Alexandria’s big bodies included 6-7 Logan Doyle and 6-5 AJ Anderson with 6-4 Ted Deitz off the bench. Doyle scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, while Anderson managed only seven and Deitz one. The Warriors limited Alexandria to 10 second-chance points, all in the second half.
“We came in knowing we would have a big height disadvantage,” Warriors post Marcus Comstock said. “We tried to figure out what they do. They usually go high-low so we knew that when they got the ball up high we would try to crowd them and try to give our bottom guy a chance.”
The Warriors, led by Jack Sauer’s 23 points on 7 of 11 shooting, got up by 18 points with 3:01 remaining before Alexandria made a run. The Cardinals outscored Brainerd 17-8 the rest of the way, but couldn’t get closer than the final score as the Warriors swished nine free throws in the final three minutes.
“Doyle’s a handful down low,” Warriors coach Scott Stanfield said. “I thought we did a fairly good job the first half on him. In the second half, he became more aggressive, especially when Jagar Hanson banged up his shoulder. Then they really took advantage of us down there.”
Hanson was injured with 16:30 to play and returned, but played sparingly the rest of the way.
“When we lose Jagar we go from 6-4 to 6-foot, 6-1 in the post,” Stanfield said. “I thought Dustin Borlaug came in and played really good defense, so did Chris Bowman.”
Bowman provided a boost with 10 points off the bench. He helped Brainerd maintain a 20-5 edge in bench points.
In the first, the Warriors led 33-19 at the break. They created 11 turnovers that led to 14 points.
Defensively, Brainerd limited the Cardinals to 6 of 21 shooting (29 percent), confining Doyle and Anderson.
Jack Sauer led the Warriors in the first, burying four threes and making 5 of 7 shots overall.
Brainerd struck for a 9-point burst and an 11-2 edge and ended the half with a 7-point spurt on a Jack Sauer three, a Riley Kline layup and a steal by Jack Sauer.
The win helped Stanfield celebrate his 50th birthday a day in advance.
“The kids were pretty fired up,” Stanfield said. “The last game my daughter came home and brought 50 suckers, and it had on there ‘50 Sucks.’ The kids had a sucker after the game so they thought that was pretty cool.”
Alexandria 19 39 — 58
Brainerd 33 34 —67
Jordan Smith 5, Austin Storm 8, John Vogeler 15, Logan Doyle 18, AJ Anderson 7, Tanner Rice 3, Logan Serum 1, Ted Deitz 1. FG 21-56 (38 percent). FT 12-18 (67 percent). 3-point baskets: 4-18 (22 percent). Turnovers: 18.
Jack Sauer 23, Tommy Olson 2, Riley Kline 7, Jagar Hanson 6, Marcus Comstock 9, Tony Sauer 5, Dustin Borlaug 2, Ian Haug 3, Chris Bowman 10. FG 21-46 (46 percent). FT 18-29 (62 percent). 3-point baskets: 7-14 (50 percent). Turnovers: 16.