After winning three of its last four games the Brainerd Warriors girls' basketball team hopes it's rolling.
The Warriors capitalized on two offensive lapses by the Staples-Motley Cardinals, benefited from a size advantage and forced twice as many turnovers as they committed in a 57-41 victory Saturday night.
"Hopefully, we're on a little roll here where we can keep things going," Brainerd coach Carl Hendrickson said. "This will do nothing but give us more confidence, which is something I think we lacked. Back-to-back wins (over Duluth East and S-M) are a good confidence builder for us."
Brainerd built a 9-0 first-quarter lead and outscored the Cardinals 17-5 in the third period to seize a 41-22 edge. S-M scored the first nine points of the final quarter to climb within 41-31 but the Warriors persevered.
"We were afraid to go out and put pressure out front," S-M coach Joe Joerger said. "It's not that we can't do that because we've done it before. Having played the night before we didn't know how much we could go and have gas left in the tank to go when we needed to. Maybe we should have started that a little bit earlier, but that's always an item to second guess. We were already rotating kids in every couple minutes trying to get a fresh look in there.
"Carl did a good job. He mixed his defenses up well. When we got a little run he changed things a little bit. When he does that you've got to recognize a little better. Sometimes you have people who don't recognize as well as someone else that's in there."
The Warriors recognized their height advantage and relied on post players Annie Zauhar (5-foot-11) and Amy Kittelson (6-0). The duo combined to score 21 points and pull down 19 rebounds. The Warriors finished with a 34-17 edge on the boards.
"After seeing them play (Friday) night at Crosby-Ironton, I thought we could get the ball inside and use our size to our advantage," Hendrickson said, "and I think we did that. We got some good boards out of Kittelson. I think she had 11 at the half.
"I thought the girls played hard. They forced turnovers and we were able to convert the turnovers. We got off to a good start. We were able to make some baskets and force them to turn it over a little bit."
Point guard Lisa Renneke played a splendid floor game. The 5-10 senior scored a game-high 16 points in addition to collecting six rebounds and 10 assists.
"Lisa probably played one of her best games, floor-wise, since her (ankle) injury," Hendrickson said. "She's starting to come on for us, which is going to do nothing but help us. I also thought Kacie Herman and Megan Steiger really hustled. Megan got a lot of steals and so did Kacie. That's what we need from those two."
Herman had a team-high six steals to go along with seven points while Steiger added six points and crashed to the floor at every opportunity for loose balls.
Freshman Michele Honek led the Cardinals with 12 points. Rachel Landecker and Alicia Miller each added 11 for S-M, which had only four players score.
"When your legs are a little tired your shots come up a little short," Joerger said. "Brainerd has a nice team. They were ready to go. We were ready to go, too. Things just didn't go our way. I told the girls to keep their heads up. This kind of game is going to happen once in a while. That's the way it is."
Staples-Motley 3 14 5 19 -- 41
Brainerd 12 12 17 16 -- 57
Rachel Landecker 11, Laura Warn 7, Heather Gold 0, Michele Honek 12, Stephanie Rice 0, Alicia Miller 11. Team totals: FG 16-40 (40 percent), FT 9-18 (50 percent). Overall -- 5-3. Next game: at Pequot Lakes 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Lisa Renneke 16, Kacie Herman 7, Megan Steiger 6, Annie Zauhar 11, Amy Kittelson 10, Katie Ahlberg 5, Katie Frost 2. Team totals: FG 24-65 (37 percent), FT 7-14 (50 percent). Overall -- 4-5. Next game: host Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Thursday
3-point baskets -- SM 0-3, B 2-7 (Renneke, Ahlberg). Rebounds -- SM 27, B 34 (Kittelson 11, Zauhar 8, Renneke 6). Turnovers -- SM 34, B 17. Total fouls -- SM 12, B 17. Assists -- B 17 (Renneke 10). Steals -- B 17 (Herman 6). Blocks -- B 4 (Frost 2).
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