As Oliver Hardy once said, "Be big."
The Brainerd Warriors girls' basketball team will have to be big Thursday night when it hosts the St. Cloud Tech Tigers.
Tech poses one of the Warriors' biggest challenges with an imposing front line of 6-foot-3 junior twin sisters Katy and Jessy Preston and 6-foot sophomore Kayla Rengel. The Tigers, coached by former Staples High School and Concordia College standout Jessica (Beachy) Rahmann, stand 4-1 in the Central Lakes Conference and 9-3 overall.
Brittney Johnson, a 5-7 junior, and Andrea Dooley, a 5-6 point guard, round out the Tigers' starting lineup.
The Warriors are led in scoring by Megan Arns (12.9), Amy Kittelson (11.6), Brooke Rollins (9.5) and Joan Ebnet (9.0). Arns is also averaging 10.7 rebounds. Ebnet has a team-high 42 assists and 34 steals. Kittelson averages 7.7 rebounds and has blocked 31 shots.
Brainerd leads the conference at 5-0 and is 8-2 overall.
"The concern coming in, obviously, was the chemistry," Warriors coach Carl Hendrickson said of having three transfers, "but chemistry has taken a back seat. Because of that, we have been able to go out and play and to this point we're really happy where we are in the season."
Another conference showdown looms Thursday night at St. Cloud between the unbeaten Tigers and Warriors gymnastics teams.
Brainerd is 4-0 and Tech is 5-0 after scoring 142.475 points to defeat previously unbeaten Willmar last week. The Warriors' season-high point total is 145.825 in its quadrangular Dec. 8 while the Tigers' high-water mark was against Willmar.
Brainerd will perform without Molly Smith. The senior hyperextended her knee when she slipped off the balance beam in the Warriors' holiday invitational Dec. 22. She suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and is out for the season.
Last season, Smith dislocated an elbow and missed the section and state meets.
"It definitely has an impact," Warriors coach Dave Maras said of Smith's loss. "Molly is a great gymnast. She's a great inspiration to all our kids. Having someone out of our lineup like that will definitely make our other kids have to step up a little bit.
"Molly's still there all the time, cheering them on. We've got a pretty good nucleus yet. We have to step back and regroup a little bit and the kids are doing a good job at that."
Flyers at Brainerd
in boys' basketball Friday
Two teams who haven't had a great deal of success early in conference play, but appear to be on the upswing meet Friday night at Brainerd.
The Little Falls Flyers are 1-3 in the conference but improved to 4-5 overall with a 66-44 victory over St. Louis Park Saturday. The Warriors are 0-4 in the conference and 4-6 overall after a heartbreaking 47-46 loss to Alexandria Tuesday.
Little Falls has a balanced scoring attack, led by Noah Czech (10.4), Paul Hochsprung (8.8) and Mark Kasella (8.0). Mark Hartwig (5-10 point guard) and Tony Golden (6-4 center) complete the starting rotation. Renzo Ferrari, a 6-2 foreign exchange student from Paraguay, averages 9.4 points off the bench.
Brainerd's leading scorers are Mike Zauhar (13.0), Jake Phillips (11.0) and Jorgen Hartje (8.0). Zauhar also leads in rebounds (5.0) and assists (2.5). He is tied with Paul Tuchscherer for the lead in steals (2.0).
Tech at Brainerd
in boys' hockey Saturday
Tech has one of the better teams in the conference and is 10-4-1 overall entering Saturday night's game at Brainerd Area Civic Center. Following a 1-2-1 start, the Tigers have won 9 of 11 games, including 6-2 over Willmar Tuesday.
"The difference between them and Apollo is that Apollo's got two players who can jump up and bite you if you don't keep an eye on them," Warriors coach Ty Eigner said. "Tech has a lot of kids who play the same. They play hard, they work hard. They try to outwork teams. They don't rely on one or two guys."
Brainerd is 2-2-0 in conference play and 6-5-0 overall after beating Little Falls 8-3 Tuesday.
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