PEQUOT LAKES — Tenacious defense and quality bench play were just two of the aspects of the game at which the Brainerd Warriors excelled Monday night.
The unbeaten Warriors, who rolled to their ninth win with a 82-38 dismantling of the Pequot Lakes Patriots, scored 40 points off of 39 turnovers.
Brainerd, which is 9-0 for the first time since the 1965-66 season, received 33 points from reserves. Among the most productive bench players Monday were Tony Sauer, who scored 10 points, Taylor Huber with eight and Jagar Hanson with six.
“It’s huge to be deep because when teams are shallow you can get picked apart pretty easily,” Tony Sauer said. “Since we have 10 to 12 guys that we can throw out there it’s huge.”
Warriors coach Scott Stanfield has been confident in his bench all season.
“We played a lot of kids the whole game,” he said. “During the first half, and early in the second half, we played 12 or 13 kids. Honestly, we can play 12 or 13 kids and there’s not a real lot of drop off, and I think you saw that tonight.
“That’s valuable because what it does is in practice they’re going up against each other and every day they get a little better. And, that’s fun.”
Jack Sauer led the Warriors with 19 points and Marcus Comstock finished with 13. They sparked Brainerd to a 50-percent shooting night (31 of 62).
Tony Sauer said the Warriors are playing with considerable confidence but aren’t concerned about having Brainerd’s best record in 47 years.
“Everyone’s playing together, I think that’s the big thing,” he said. “We’re sharing the ball, we’re getting open shots and then by knocking them down it keeps everything going.
“We’re just taking it a game at a time, and keep playing together.”
Brainerd’s ball pressure resulted in numerous turnovers. It helped the Warriors rattle off 22 unanswered points to open the second half and build a 73-27 edge. The Warriors’ pressure caused Pequot to make just 4 of 20 baskets in the second half, and just 31 percent (14 of 45) for the game.
The Patriots didn’t score in the second half until Jack Kreitz buried a three with 8:33 remaining.
“We got to rest our starters most of the second half for our game (Tuesday night) against (St. Cloud) Apollo, which is a big conference game,” Stanfield said. “The kids’ effort, no matter who went in, was what I was most proud of.
“I thought the defensive effort and the intensity remained. That’s really important to me, when you sub kids in late in the game that it doesn’t get sloppy or they don’t have the effort that the starters have. Tonight, all the kids who went in played really hard on defense. That was fun to see.”
Pressure defense helped the Warriors build a 51-27 halftime cushion. Brainerd forced 21 turnovers in the first, scoring 24 points off of those miscues.
Brainerd was relatively hot from the field in the first, shooting 47 percent (18 of 38). Jack Sauer scored 13 points in the half, Tony Sauer 10 and Comstock nine.
Pequot started out with a hot hand, seizing a 12-8 lead before plummeting like the temperature outdoors. The Warriors scored 14 of the next 16 points, and 20 of the next 26, for a 42-19 edge and the contest was all but over.
Jordan Redmond scored all of his team-high 10 points in the first half for Pequot Lakes. No other Patriot scored more than six.
The lopsided win also enabled Stanfield to play almost his entire 26-man roster.
“All but two or three kids got in because we don’t have enough room in the (score)book that we have,” Stanfield said. “We’re going to adjust that and see if we can add to that somehow, but that’s the only reason those kids didn’t get in.”
Brainerd 51 31 — 82
Pequot Lakes 27 11 — 38
Jack Sauer 19, Jacob Blong 8, Marcus Comstock 13, Ian Haug 5, Chris Bowman 4, Tony Sauer 10, Taylor Huber 8, Jagar Hanson 6, Nick Schwen 2, Isaiah Smith 2, Logan Davis 3, Geoff Sheflo 2. FG 31-62 (50 percent). FT 13-21 (62 percent). 3-pointers 7-23. Turnovers: 10.
Brett Peterson 6, John Craig 3, Jordan Redmond 10, Travis Jacobson 6, Keegan Johnson 1, Brandon Hehir 3, Conner Davich 2, Kevin Beltz 2, Jack Kreitz 3, Sean Murray 2. FG 14-45 (31 percent). FT 5-7. 3-pointers 5-13. Turnovers: 39.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.