A well-wisher extended his hand to Ian Haug after the game and said, “I have to shake hands with Pistol Pete.”
Haug was hotter than a pistol Tuesday night at Brainerd High School as he scored a career-high 25 points, helping the Warriors take apart the Sartell Sabres 80-57 in the Central Lakes Conference opener for both teams.
The 6-2 senior virtually hoisted Brainerd on his back in the second half, scoring 16 points during that span and sinking 6 of 7 shots, including four straight 3-pointers.
“With Tony (Sauer) out (with a knee injury), there are a lot of threes that aren’t going in because he’s putting in so many, so everyone on the team has to step up,” Haug said.
“I practice it a lot,” Haug said of the three. “I’m not that big, so it’s tough to get underneath. I get a few basket cuts, but I’ve got to focus on threes.”
Haug finished 6 of 8 from 3-point land, making half of Brainerd’s threes, and he was 9 of 11 overall from the field. He helped Brainerd shoot 54 percent (15 of 28) in the second half, 49 percent (29 of 59) for the game.
“Ian is a gym rat,” Warriors coach Scott Stanfield said. “All summer he was pestering me to get in the gym. I always told him if you want to shoot I’ll be there. I’ll be the first one to open the door, and the last one to leave if you want to shoot. He took advantage of it, like a lot of our kids did.
“Credit our kids. They knew he was hot, they got him the ball, he got clean open looks, and our offense started clicking. We started getting back cuts and everyone was moving pretty well.”
Almost overlooked during Haug’s uplifting effort was the Warriors’ defensive performance. Leading just 38-35 at the half, Brainerd scored the first 22 points of the second half, with Haug providing 11 in the burst. After letting Sartell shoot 54 percent in the first half (13 of 24), the Warriors clamped down in the second, limiting the Sabres to 36 percent (9 of 25).
Sartell did not score in the second until Kevin Wolfe’s free throw with 8:38 remaining. Brainerd held the Sabres without a basket until Parker Hagen’s layup with 7:27 left. The Warriors played man in the first before switching to a 1-2-2 zone early in the second.
“(Patrick) Fischer is a big, strong point guard who’s hard to keep out of the lane,” Stanfield said. “He was giving us problems because we don’t have anybody with his size and quickness to keep him out of the lane. So we adjusted after a timeout.
“We went into our core defense, which is a 1-2-2, and kept him out of the lane. They passed it around the perimeter and really did not get anything going from there on, and we rebounded well out of there.”
The Warriors, who turned the ball over just seven times, unselfishly passed the ball and got everyone involved in the offense. Jacob Blong contributed 13 points, Jack Sauer 12 and Chris Bowman 11.
“We’ve been playing together since we were really little,” Haug said. “We’ve got a lot of team chemistry, so we always know where each other are, so it’s not too hard to move the ball around and share the ball because we’re so used to it. That’s the way we were raised to play.”
Brainerd was opportunistic, scoring 15 points off of 17 Sartell turnovers and scoring eight second-chance points, all in the first half. That enabled the Warriors to build a comfortable lead and play 13 players. Ten of those 13 players scored.
“I was really happy with our effort,” Stanfield said. “We’ve just got to stay humble, be hungry, take it a half at a time and see where we end up.”
Tom Bearson 10, Patrick Fischer 10, Ben Lanners 9, Tim Immelman 0, Parker Hagen 7, Brandon Snoberger 8, Dylan Hollenkamp 4, Sam Neeser 2, Kevin Wolfe 1, Mark Markman 3, Tyler Tillotson 3. FG: 22-49 (45 percent). FT: 5-9. Turnovers: 17.
Jack Sauer 12, Jacob Blong 13, Marcus Comstock 7, Ian Haug 25, Chris Bowman 11, Jagar Hanson 2, Connor Bowman 4, Grant Reuer 2, Tate Geraets 2, Seth Kreutzfeld 2. FG: 29-59 (49 percent). FT: 9-16. Turnovers: 7.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.