The Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team needed a two-pointer to tie, a three-pointer to win.
It didn't get either.
A last-second three-point attempt by Lucas Brick was blocked, enabling the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks to escape with a 53-51 boys' basketball victory Saturday night.
"We were hoping to be able to attack the basket, draw some help defense and kick it to a shooter," Warriors coach Matt Urbanek said. "We didn't quite get the shot we wanted there at the end. Grand Rapids deserves credit for defending it well.
"They played real strong defense in the second half. We didn't adjust well to what they were doing.
"We felt like we let this one get away, no doubt about it."
The game began to get away from the Warriors near the end of the third quarter. With Brainerd leading 37-32, Grand Rapids slapped full-court pressure and a half-court trap on the Warriors.
Grand Rapids 53, Warriors 51
The key: Grand Rapids blocked the Warriors' last-second shot.
Next: vs. St. Cloud Apollo, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
"It was just a little different look," Thunderhawks coach Dan Elhard said. "It kind of scared me to do that. I know they've got some real good shooters. They had some good looks. Fortunately for us they missed a few shots down the stretch."
Against the Thunderhawks' pressure, Brainerd frequently turned the ball over or hurried into its offense.
"Grand Rapids did a good job taking away the middle of the floor, which is where we wanted to get the ball," Urbanek said. "We were too tentative against that half-court trap. We didn't attack it like we should have.
"They kind of got us out of sync with the half-court trap. It disrupted our timing and rhythm pretty effectively on the offensive end. I think we played hard. We just didn't capitalize on our opportunities."
The Warriors missed several layups and easy baskets, which led to 30 percent shooting. Brainerd wasn't much better at the foul line, sinking just 56 percent of its shots.
Grand Rapids, a Class 3A state tournament team last season that graduated 10 seniors, shot 48 percent from the field. But its inability to hit its free throws down the stretch enabled the Warriors to hang close. The Thunderhawks made just 5 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter, but so did Brainerd.
Two Jase Renneke free throws with 13.8 seconds left pulled Brainerd within the final score. Renneke's foul shots preceded a missed two-shot free-throw opportunity by Grand Rapids' Jordan Mattfield.
Brainerd rebounded, got the ball to half court and called timeout with 8.3 seconds left. That set the scene for Brick's attempt.
"I felt like we had a lot of good looks," Urbanek said. "It just didn't go in the basket."
Grand Rapids' Jordan Noles led all scorers with 17 points. He had 11 in the first half.
Blake Eller, who had 10 at the half, finished with 16 to pace Brainerd (2-5). Zach Eastman added 13 for the Warriors.
Grand Rapids 12 16 13 12 -- 53
Brainerd 13 18 8 12 -- 51
Jack Keeney 4, Jarrett Brenner 2, Paul Richie 9, Jordan Noles 17, Eric Blair 12, Jordan Mattfield 1, Ryan Kruse 8. Totals: FG 20-42 (48 percent), FT 9-16 (56 percent). Three-point baskets -- Blair, Richie, Kruse 2. Overall -- 5-4.
Blake Eller 16, Justin Mueller 6, Zach Eastman 13, Lucas Brick 3, Jase Renneke 5, Matt Steiger 4, Adian Kummet 4. Totals: FG 16-53 (30 percent), FT 14-25 (56 percent). Three-point baskets -- Eller 2, Eastman 3). Overall -- 2-5. Next game -- host St. Cloud Apollo 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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