ack-to-back and short-handed isn’t a good combination.
Add inexperienced and that’s what the Brainerd Warriors faced even before tip-off with Section 8-4A opponent Buffalo Friday night at Brainerd High School.
Despite the litany of excuses, the Warriors battled the Bison before falling 47-36.
Brainerd tied the score 25-25 early in the second half and was within striking distance until 8:10 remained. That’s when the Bison began boarding. Buffalo scored six second-chance points during a 10-4 run to build a 39-31 advantage.
After a Katelyn Johnson layup and 3-pointer, Buffalo scored the game’s last six points to claim the victory.
“My girls played this hard (Thursday) night,” said Brainerd head coach Brian McAllister. “I mean it was a tough, physical game just like this one. I told them in the first half, ‘Your legs are tired, but you need to finish.’ That’s why we didn’t shoot well tonight. Our legs were gone tonight. When they’re gone so is your shot.
“Playing two tough games back-to-back is hard to do, but their effort was great.”
Brainerd’s Taylor Johnshoy entered the game with just one point on the season. She tallied a team-high 16 with 12 coming in the first half.
“Usually when I start missing I kind of shut down and tonight I didn’t,” said Johnshoy. “Then they started sinking.”
Maria West and Mikinze Boeder each scored four to help Brainerd climb back from a 17-7 first-half deficit to make it a 23-21 game at the half.
The Warriors shot just 5-of-15 from the foul line and 30 percent from the field in the first half. Their defense held Buffalo to just 26 percent shooting.
“Our legs were kind of shot in the second half tonight,” said Johnshoy. “We played two super aggressive teams in Tech (Thursday) and Buffalo and both were very physical. It was kind of frustrating because I wish we could have played Buffalo when we didn’t just have Tech the night before.”
The Warriors shot 6-24 in the second half and scored just 15 points. They also didn’t have an answer for Buffalo senior post Emily Spier, who scored a game-high 17 points. Ten of those came in the second half, six on second-chance points.
A big reason for Brained’s inability to stop Spier was the ankle of Heather Fletcher. The sophomore post, who was leading Brainerd with 11 points a game, scored just one as she hobbled around the court.
Starting point guard Jenna Degen missed her second straight game.
“We don’t know when we’re getting Jenna back,” said McAllister. “We’re hoping next Friday against Willmar. Heather Fletcher, I give her a lot of credit. She had a pretty bad ankle. We taped it up and iced it. I asked her if she could go and she said yes. I thought for playing on one leg she did a pretty good job against that girl from Buffalo. I can’t fault her or the team’s effort.
“I feel bad for the girls not to get a win.”
Buffalo 23 24 — 47
Brainerd 21 15 — 36
Carolyn Feddema 5, Anika Fredrick 11, Jerika Decker 2, Nicole Duske 2, Tiah Marr 10, Emily Spier 17. FG 19-54 (35 percent), FT 8-12 (67 percent). 3-point 0-1 (0 percent).
Katelyn Johnson 5, Maria West 8, Taylor Johnshoy 16, Heather Fletcher 1, Mikinze Boeder 6. FG 14-51 (27 percent), FT 9-21 (43 percent). 3-point 1-12 (.08 percent).