On Jan. 13, the St. Cloud Tech Tigers were ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
Two losses later and the Tigers are no longer ranked. That doesn't mean they aren't a good team.
But the Brainerd Warriors gave all the talented Tigers could handle Friday in a 64-55 Central Lakes Conference overtime loss at Brainerd High School.
Joel Martin's 3-point basket with 35 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 52-52. The senior point guard was fouled on the shot, but missed the free throw.
On the Tigers' next possession, they ran the clock down to nine seconds before calling a timeout. The strategy didn't work as Brainerd forced a turnover and Kyle Crocker's desperation heave at the buzzer just missed the mark.
Tech 64, Warriors 55 OT
Key: Tech held Brainerd scoreless until 32 seconds remained in overtime
Conf: Brd 3-7, Tech 8-2
Overall: Brd 5-10, Tech 12-2
Next: Brainerd hosts Alexandria 7 :30 p.m. Thursday.
A fitting end to a game that featured eight lead changes and seven ties.
"You have to hit shots to win the game," said Warrior head coach Wade Haapajoki. "I thought for the most part we held them in check. Kyle's shot at the end looked good from our angle, but it didn't fall again."
What wasn't fitting was how Tech dominated the overtime. The Tigers scored the first 10 points and held Brainerd scoreless until 35.4 seconds remained.
Haapajoki picked up his first career technical foul in the extra frame.
"I'm going to fight for these kids," said Haapajoki. "We busted our tail."
Tech's Alex Hank scored four of his 17 points in the extra frame and Thomas Korf hit a big three and added a free throw in the OT to finish with nine.
Scott Nystrom added 17 points for the Tigers, who improve to 12-2 overall and 8-2 in the conference.
"The kids just did a great job of stepping up," said Tech head coach Mike Trewick. "Thomas Korf hits big shot after big shot. He may not be our best player with Alex and Scott out there, but I think he's our most important player.
"We need him in the game and he did a great job after the first 15 minutes on (Aaron) Pavak."
Pavak finished with 14 points, eight coming in the first half.
Crocker led all scorers with 21 points, but he and the other Warrior guards struggled with Tech's ball pressure. Brainerd was forced into 20 turnovers and the Tigers turned those into 23 points, 12 coming in the second half.
"I wish we would do that the whole game," said Trewick. "We're trying to get back to pressuring the ball and we've gotten a little soft defensively. I think our zone makes us stand and it affects our offense and defense. When we needed to pick it up, Alex did a great job on Crocker and Kewon (Johnson) came in and provided a ton of energy for us."
Trailing 42-37, Johnson picked the pocket of Crocker and turned it into a layup. Johnson did the same thing on the next Brainerd possession and dished it to Hanks, who made the layup and foul shot for a 43-42 edge.
The lead would change twice more before Martin's 3 tied it.
"I'm glad we had the opportunity at the end of regulation to win the game," said Haapajoki. "But again we just need one of those things to go.
"I'll take these guys against anybody because I know we're going to play hard. That's expected. It's not congratulated anymore. That's just how we're doing things. But dang it man. We need to win one of these."
St. Cloud Tech 21 31 12 - 64
Brainerd 22 30 3 - 55
ST. CLOUD TECH
Kellan Euerle 10, Kewon Johnson 6, Kevin Heysse 2, Alex Hanks 17, Trey Barber 3, Scott Nystrom 17, Thomas Korf 9. FG 25-61 (41 percent), FT 7-18 (39 percent), Three-point baskets: 5-23 (Korf 2, Nystrom 2, Barber).
Joel Martin 9, Kyle Crocker 21, Aaron Pavek 14, Chris Rud 4, Thomas Fairbanks 3, Nick Belgum 2, Garth Askegaard 2. FG 21-50 (42 percent), FT 5-12 (42 percent), Three-point baskets: 8-21 (Crocker 5, Martin 3).
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