Pressure defense plus balanced scoring was the winning equation for the Brainerd Warriors Friday.
Brainerd forced 20 first-half turnovers and three Warriors scored in double figures for a 52-42 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Sartell Sabres at Brainerd High School.
The Warriors scored 18 points off those turnovers, including 13 of their first 15 points. That helped build a 15-4 lead. Brainerd held Sartell to just 15 field goal attempts in the first half.
"We played really well as a team defensively," said Warriors point guard Emily Thesing. "We recovered for each other. Nikker (Graumann) was hustling around when we played full court and that opened up our offense for us. We were able to run the floor."
Emily Thesing (center) and Kylie Stanfield (right) of the Brainerd Warriors battled for a loose ball Friday against Sartell. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Alex Sauer scored 10 of her team-high 12 points in the first half helping Brainerd to a 36-11 halftime edge. Thesing, who finished with 11 points, scored seven and Emilee Branum scored five for the Warriors, who shot 29 percent in the first half.
Brainerd's ability to hold Sartell's junior center Andrea Whitney to four first-half points was another key.
"When you play defense and block out and take care of the basketball you can get some good results from it," said Warriors head coach Carl Hendrickson. "The first half I thought we played with pretty good intensity and got points off the turnovers. We had a lot of good open shots that we didn't hit, but still we were able to have a good lead at halftime."
Brainerd couldn't contain Whitney in the second half as she exploded for 15 to finish with a game-high 19. Sartell was able to hang on to the ball in the second half and shot 46 percent from the field.
Brainerd 52, Sartell 42
Key: The Warriors forced 20 first half turnovers and turned those into 18 points
Conf: Brd 5-2, Sar 1-6
Overall: Brd 5-4, Sar 1-8
Next: Brainerd at St. Cloud Tech 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
That helped it chip away at the Warriors lead, closing to within nine late in the second half.
Brainerd maintained its poise and also shot 46 percent in the second half.
Most of Brainerd's second-half points came on the pick-and-roll, which was executed well by Thesing and Tess Rahto. Thesing finished with eight assists and Rahto scored all eight of her points in the second half. Kylie Stanfield also scored eight for the Warriors and added five rebounds and five steals.
"We need to have some good balance not only inside, but outside," said Hendrickson. "We haven't had that in the last few games. We've been pretty much relying on our post people. We need to have a better balance of inside-outside. Tonight we got that."
The win snaps a two-game skid for the Warriors and pushes them to 5-2 in the conference. The loss drops Sartell to 1-8.
Emilee Branum jumped for a basket Friday during a Central Lakes Conference girls' basketball game at the Brainerd High School against Sartell. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"You have to respect every opponent that comes in, especially on your home court," said Thesing. "You can't just think that you're going to blow everyone away. Sartell can be a good team and they showed that during the second half. But we were able to use more of our experience against theirs and it was a good win for us."
Sartell 11 31 - 42
Brainerd 26 26 - 52
Melissa Jacobs 6, Brittany Madden 4, Abigail Frericks 6, Allison Rengel 2, Andrea Whitney 19, Haley Guetter 5. Team totals: FG 16-41 (39 percent), FT 9-18 (50 percent), 3-point baskets: 1-5 (Guetter).
Alex Sauer 12, Emilee Branum 11, Kylie Stanfield 8, Tess Rahto 8, Emily Thesing 11, Nicolette Graumann 2. Team totals: FG 22-58 (38 percent), FT 5-9 (56 percent), 3-point baskets: 3-15 (Sauer 2, Thesing).
Rebounds: Brd 26 (Stanfield 5, Rahto 4), Sar 30. Turnovers: Brd 15, Sar 32. Assists: Brd 17 (Thesing 8). Steals: Brd 20 (Stanfield 5, Thesing 5). Blocks: Brd 2.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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