The Sartell Sabres spent most of the night trailing.
But at the end of each frame the Sabres always managed to either lead or tie the Brainerd Warriors during Thursday’s Central Lakes Conference game at Brainerd High School. That included the overtime frame, which saw Sartell steal a 72-62 victory over the Warriors on Brainerd’s senior night.
Sartell’s Haley Guetter scored four of her game-high 26 in the extra frame, which saw the Sabres outscore Brainerd 13-3. Abigail Whitney scored five of her 25 in the extra frame to help Sartell to a 12-4 conference record.
“We had two or three turnovers at the end of the game and again in overtime,” said Warriors head coach Brian McAllister. “We didn’t even get a look at the basket because we turned the ball over. Some of that you have to give Sartell credit.
“What we did to them with our ball pressure to get back into the game, that’s what they started to do to us. We didn’t handle that well. We have to take care of the ball under pressure.”
All three Warrior turnovers in overtime resulted in Sartell points.
Gretchen Kletscher scored all three of Brainerd’s overtime points to finish with a team-high 25.
But it was the same story for the Warriors. Build a lead, get cold from the field and battle back only to get cold again. The Warriors shot 22 percent and didn’t score for the final six minutes of the first half. Sartell turned that into a 9-0 run and a 25-18 halftime edge.
“We couldn’t buy a basket,” said McAllister. “We had some good looks at the basket, we just have to make some of those shots in the first half. What surprised me was we were still in the game.”
Brainerd used a 13-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from Kayla Kraemer to climb within 41-39. The Warriors eventually tied it 49-49 at the 5:42 mark on two Kletscher free throws. Brainerd then built a 55-51 lead, but turnovers and poor shooting down the stretch allowed Sartell to climb back and claim a 59-57 edge.
Two Kletscher free throws with 31 seconds left sent the game into overtime.
“We just used ball pressure to get back into the game,” said McAllister. “We just got up on people so they couldn’t get that open, easy pass into (6-foot-7 center) Whitney. Because if she catches it down low she’s going to score or get fouled. She’s got good skills and there is no substitute for size.”
In the overtime, Brainerd shot 1-of-6 from the floor and 1-of-2 from the foul line. Sartell was 4-6 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line.
Brainerd’s Maria West tallied 10 points followed by Kraemer and McKenzie Veith each with nine.
The Warriors conclude the regular season with a 5-17 overall record and will likely be the No. 8 seed for the Section 8-4A playoffs.
“Our seniors were a good group,” McAllister said. “They worked hard, but they were just nice kids. They played hard. They do what we ask them to do.
“I know they feel bad because it’s their last game at home.”
Sartell 25 34 13 — 72
Brainerd 18 41 3 — 62
Rachel Corcoran 3, Taylor Mareck 8, Haley Guetter 26, Ashton Haider 6, Alli Hayes 4, Abigail Whitney 25. FG 26-57 (48 percent), FT 18-27 (66 percent), 3-point basket: 2-4 (50 percent).
Maria West 10, Taylor Johnshoy 4, Kayla Kraemer 9, Gretchen Kletscher 25, Nicole Marquart 1, Heather Jaeche 1, Chloe Miller 2, McKenzie Veith 9, Heather Fletcher 1. FG 18-68 (26 percent), FT 21-33 (64 percent), 3-point basket: 2-12 (17 percent).
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.