It was a tale of two halves.
The Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team fell behind early Tuesday against Alexandria, recovered to make it close, but ultimately fell 71-65 to the Cardinals at the Brainerd High School gym.
"It was a tough loss because this is a game we weren't mentally ready to play," Brainerd coach Brad Amundson said. "In the first half, their effort was much better than ours. When you're not ready to play, that's not something that's going to make you successful in a ballgame."
The Warriors allowed Alexandria to climb out to a 17-6 lead after the first six minutes. The Cardinals led by 10 at the end of the first quarter and by nine at the end of the half.
"This is not a positive loss because we didn't play good in the first half," said senior forward Matt Yde, who was 10-for-18 from the field and scored 23 points. "But the second half, we did pick it up. We have to start playing the whole game."
In the first half, Brainerd was 10-for-30 from the field, including only 6 of 19 from three-point range. But it wasn't the poor shooting that Amundson was most concerned about.
"You have to execute the game plan," said Amundson, whose team is 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Central Lakes Conference. "We put ourselves in a hole against a good team. You can come back and win, but you have to have one heck of a run to get over the hump."
The Warriors came out of halftime a whole new team. Dan Karlgaard and Mike Zauhar each connected on a three-pointer within the first minute and Brainerd closed the lead to 42-38 after two baskets by Mitch Feierabend.
"We had a lot more hustle in the second half," Yde said. "We were diving on the floor and played a lot better defense. (Amundson) told us and we could tell ourselves, that (our first-half play) wasn't the way it should be."
The Warriors trailed by 11 points with 5:25 to play when they started scrapping. Yde and Zauhar each hit two free throws and Justin Heitkamp stole the ball on a post-entry pass, got the ball to Yde, and Yde connected on a short jump shot to trim the lead to 64-59.
"What was most distressing to me was Brainerd got to every loose ball at the end," said Alexandria coach John Holsten, whose team is undefeated at 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference. "But our kids have some experience and we finally started moving the ball around and getting the ball to the open man."
The closest Brainerd was the whole game was two points at the one-minute mark, when Yde converted two consecutive field goals that made the score 67-65.
"The second half, we played Brainerd basketball," Amundson said. "We were diving on the floor for loose balls and blocking out. We played much harder and much more intense."
Alexandria 21 16 20 14 -- 71
Brainerd 11 17 23 14 -- 65
Scott Ferguson 15, Brett Swedberg 8, Jake Heydt 3, Andrew Beliveau 10, Matt Hoelscher 10, Marc Craigmile 20, Mark Lovrien 5. Team totals: FG 28-48 (58 percent), FT 10-17 (59 percent). Conference -- 3-0. Overall -- 4-0.
Dan Karlgaard 9, Joe Morgan 7, Mitch Feierabend 4, Matt Yde 23, Mike Zauhar 15, Jorgen Hartje 4, Derick LaPointe 0, Justin Heitkamp 3, Adam Hardy 0. Team totals: FG 22-57 (39 percent), FT 12-12 (100 percent). Conference -- 0-3. Overall -- 1-5. Next game: Host Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
3-point baskets -- A 5-10 (Swedberg 2-3, Ferguson 1-2, Hoelscher 1-2, Craigmile 1-2); B 9-31 (Karlgaard 3-4, Zauhar 3-6, Heitkamp 1-4, Yde 1-5, Morgan 1-7, Hartje 0-2, LaPointe 0-2, Feierabend 0-1). Rebounds -- A 31; B 24 (Yde 9). Turnovers -- A 22; B 17. Total fouls -- A 17; B 17. Assists -- A 22; B 19 (Karlgaard 6). Steals -- A 5; B 5.
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