Four days removed from one of its worst shooting performances of the season, a disheartening home-court loss to the St. Cloud Tech Tigers, the Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team was looking for redemption.
There was no better team to earn redemption against than winless Fergus Falls. One area of marked shooting improvement was from beyond the 3-point arc where Brainerd hit five threes in the opening 18 minutes and went on to down the Otters 61-46 Tuesday in a Central Lakes Conference game.
"We just came out and decided to play our game," Brainerd guard Landon Stanfield said. "Our shot selection was much better tonight and we worked on getting it down low more than we usually do. The three can get you going and we have a lot of good shooters. You're not going to win too many games shooting 23 percent like we did against Tech."
Brainerd's Brad Kirkvold (left) and Ben Ambroz went after a rebound in the second half Tuesday. Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist» Purchase reprints of this photo.
The contest remained close for the first eight minutes until Jed Magstadt's 3-pointer at about the 10-minute mark sparked an 8-0 run. Stanfield, who finished with 19 points, 12 in the first half, followed with a three and a Magstadt jumper gave Brainerd a 19-10 lead.
Thanks to 9 of 13 shooting from the free throw line the Otters remained close and pulled within four. But a Mitch Means jumper, a Stanfield 3-pointer and a Kyle Crocker three with eight seconds left in the half gave Brainerd a 32-22 lead.
"I don't want players to be scared to shoot the ball," Urbanek said. "You're not going to make shots if you shoot tentatively. You have to shoot with confidence. If you have an open shot, and you're a shooter, you have to pull the trigger. Tonight I thought we had guys that took pretty good shots."
Brainerd opened a 41-28 lead after a Brett Cloutier jumper and Stanfield's third 3-pointer. That lead increased to 45-30 after two Stanfield free throws and a Corey Hermanson rebound and putback.
But the Warriors iced the game when Mike Valesano scored on a layup and Magstadt sank two free throws to give Brainerd a 57-37 lead.
Brainerd's Jed Magstadt guarded a Fergus Falls player in the second half Tuesday at Brainerd High School. Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist» Purchase reprints of this photo.
The Warriors had eight players in the scoring column. Behind Stanfield, Cloutier was the next highest scorer with 10 points. After scoring four points in the first half the senior post player added six points in the second and became more active in the Brainerd offense.
"We need more consistency out of Brett," said Urbanek. "We need him to finish inside and we need him to get rebounds. He is our main post player and for us to be successful in the Central Lakes Conference we need Brett to play consistently well all the time. We challenged him in the second half and he came out and played well."
Fergus Falls 22 24 - 46
Brainerd 32 29 - 61
Warriors 61, Fergus Falls 46
The key: Brainerd hit five first-half 3-pointers and Landon Stanfield scored 19 points.
Conf: Brd 8-3, FF 0-11
Overall: Brd 10-5, FF 0-15
Next: Brd at Sartell, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Joe Wood 2, Jason Jorgenson 2, Alec Robertson 2, Sam Vanderlinden 2, Alex Nelson 20, Kyle Shaikoski 2, Riley Lindberg 2, Nick Ekren 4, Derek Hansen 10. FG 15-37 (41 percent), FT 14-19 (74 percent). Three-point baskets: 2 (Nelson 2).
Kyle Crocker 7, Brett Cloutier 10, Jed Magstadt 7, Brett Kramer 4, Mitch Means 5, Mike Valesano 7, Corey Hermanson 2, Landon Stanfield 19. FG 21-47 (45 percent), FT 13-16 (81 percent). Three-point baskets: 6 (Crocker, Magstadt, Means, Stanfield 3).
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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