It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but it was a win.
And, after Saturday's second-half meltdown against Cloquet, the Brainerd Warriors girls' basketball team needed a win.
The Warriors outrebounded the Little Falls Flyers 38-17, attempted 26 more shots and forced 12 second-half turnovers to knock off the Central Lakes Conference foe 51-34 Tuesday at Brainerd High School.
Brainerd used an up-tempo offense and a full-court pressure defense to wear out Little Falls. The Warriors turned 22 Flyer turnovers into nine points. Brainerd also capitalized on its rebounds with 15 second-chance points.
"We just needed to get our focus and the right mindset back and finish a game," said Warriors point guard Emily Thesing. "We were up 23 points against Cloquet and we let them come back and that was just a lack of concentration. Tonight, we played good team basketball and now we're on a high note and we have to stay there."
Warriors 51, Little Falls 34
Key: The Warriors opened the second half with an 11-3 run and had three players in double figures
Conf: Brd 7-1, LF 0-7
Overall: Brd 9-2, LF 1-10
Next: Brainerd hosts St. Cloud Tech 7:30 p.m. Friday; Little Falls at Alexandria 7:30 p.m. Friday
Thesing led the Warriors with 15 points, eight of which came during a 9-2 second-half run that gave Brainerd a 45-26 advantage. She added five assists and three steals.
Megan Bates scored 11, including the first five points of the second half that sparked an 11-3 outburst and led to a 34-20 Warrior edge.
"We just wanted to come out with the same energy and make them force the ball a little bit," Thesing said about the second half. "We were getting beat a little bit on defense on transitions so we just wanted to make sure that didn't happen."
Stephanie Neugebauer added 11 points, Kayla Huether six and Karlye Barron five for the balanced Warrior attack. Barron also had 11 rebounds.
"One of the keys for us is the fact we're getting balanced scoring from everybody," said Warriors head coach Carl Hendrickson. "That makes teams have to defend every one where in the past we've kind of been one-dimensional."
Little Falls was led by Katie Hochsprung's 11 points and five rebounds. The center scored seven of those from the foul line. Kendra Hilmerson, Carlee Davich and Trisha Wippler each added five points for the Flyers.
Brainerd's offensive struggles continued, however, as it shot just 20-of-62 from the field. On Saturday, the Warriors managed just nine points in the second half.
"We really talked a lot at halftime about going to the offensive boards because we really didn't do that in the first half," said Hendrickson. "It was like we were watching the shot go up instead of going to the basket and picking up some of those loose balls and putting them in.
"We had a lot of opportunities around the basket that we just did not put in the hoop."
Hendrickson said the game plan offensively was to run the court and push the tempo.
"I thought we were a little tentative, offensively, to start," Hendrickson said. "We just really wanted to run. When we can push the ball up the court and run I think we're a better basketball team then when we try and slow it down and be patient."
Little Falls 17 17 - 34
Brainerd 23 28 - 51
Carlee Davich 5, Kendra Hilmerson 5, Katie Hochsprung 11, Danel Okerman 2, Erin Rioux 2, Trisha Whipler 5, Paige Beseman 4. Team totals: FG 11-36 (31 percent), FT 10-14 (71 percent), 3-point baskets: 2-7 (Hilmerson 1, Davich 1).
Stephanie Neugebauer 10, Kayla Huether 6, Megan Bates 11, Emily Thesing 15, Karlye Barron 5, Kylie Stanfield 2, Tess Rahto 2. Team totals: FG 20-62 (32 percent), FT 8-10 (80 percent), 3-point baskets: 3-10 (Thesing 2, Bates 1).
Rebounds: Brd 38 (Barron 11, Neugebauer 6), LF 17. Turnovers: Brd 10, LF 22, Assists: Brd 12 (Thesing 5), LF 3, Steals: Brd 13 (Huether 3, Thesing 3), LF 11 (Hilmerson 3, Beseman 3), Blocks: Brd 1 (Bates 1); LF 2 (Bassett 1, Wippler 1)
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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