The Brainerd Warriors girls' basketball team showed what it's capable of Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, it was only for a portion of the second half as they fell to the Bemidji Lumberjacks 46-44 at the Brainerd High School gym.
Brainerd trailed by eight points at halftime and throughout much of the second half, but rallied in the final minutes and actually had a chance to win the game at the buzzer.
"After halftime, I thought the kids came out and played with a lot more desire and enthusiasm," Brainerd coach Carl Hendrickson said. "Other than a three-minute lull in the third quarter, I thought we played pretty well.
"We just kind of kept scrapping and got back in the ball game. But we couldn't get that big basket when we needed it, to get over the hump."
Bemidji maintained a 34-26 lead after the third quarter and the teams literally traded baskets until the score was 44-38 in favor of the Lumberjacks with 1:52 remaining.
After Bemidji guard Rena Ellis missed the front end of a one-and-one, Brainerd point guard Lisa Renneke received a pass at the top of the key and was fouled trying to fire up a three-pointer. She then knocked down all three free throws to pull the Warriors within three points.
The Lumberjacks then missed two more front ends of one-and-ones, but Brainerd couldn't capitalize as Amber Haapajoki and Renneke both missed jump shots in the final minute.
"We missed some free throws down at the end and that could have salted it away a little quicker," said Bemidji coach Jim Wahl. "That hasn't been a strong point in our game."
But defense is a strong part of Bemidji's game.
"They are just so aggressive," Hendrickson said. "We knew they were a physical-type team coming in. We had our kids just kind of bouncing off them the first half. We just didn't handle that type of aggression very well from them in the first half.
"Bemidji played aggressive defensively against us. We didn't run our offense as well as we need to. Consequently, if you don't do that you're not able to put points on the board and you're not able to generate any kind of a run."
Specifically, Hendrickson was referring to a 12-0 Lumberjacks run to end the first half. Brainerd led 16-12 with 5:13 to play in the first half and ended it down by eight points. In the run, the Warriors missed seven shots and committed two turnovers.
"The kids picked up the tempo and really took away any shots they had and played well and intense," Wahl said.
Hendrickson said: "We couldn't get a basket. Against good teams, you can't give up spurts like that. Then you have to work so hard to get back to even. You spend so much energy to get back in the game and then when it comes down to the end you don't have a lot to give."
Renneke led Brainerd with 22 points, including 18 in the second half. Laura Bogenschutz tallied 13, but no other Warrior had more than three.
"We've got to get more scoring out of other people," Hendrickson said. "We can't rely on one or two people to carry us for a game. We've got to get other people scoring six or eight points. That's going to be key the second half of the season."
Bemidji 10 14 10 12 -- 46
Brainerd 9 7 10 18 -- 44
Rena Ellis 2, Jill Thompson 2, Shannon Whelan 6, Kristy Wallner 10, Lynnea Salscheider 4, Tracy Depew 14, Tara Sande 8. Team totals: FG 22/41 (54 percent), FT 2/7 (29 percent). Overall -- 11-3.
Lisa Renneke 22, Laura Bogenschutz 13, Megan Arns 2, Annie Zauhar 3, Amber Haapajoki 2, Abby Doyscher 2. Team totals: FG 17/44 (39 percent), FT 8-10 (80 percent). Overall -- 10-5. Next game: at Rocori, 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
3-point baskets -- Brd 2 (Renneke, Bogenschutz). Rebounds -- Be 23, Brd 18 (Bogenschutz 5, Renneke 4). Turnovers -- Brd 14. Total fouls -- Be 10, Brd 16. Fouled out -- Bogenschutz. Assists -- Brd 13 (Renneke 4). Steals -- Brd 8 (Arns 3). Blocks -- Brd 3 (Haapajoki 2, Doyscher).
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