A 35-second shot clock might have been the best thing that could have happened in this game.
Unfortunately, it was not in effect Friday night when the Brainerd Warriors defeated the Alexandria Cardinals 58-43 in Central Lakes Conference boys' basketball.
The Cardinals played at a snail's pace in the first half, making numerous passes in each half-court set while making just three baskets.
Some of the deliberateness was caused by the Warriors' defense, which limited Alexandria to 25 percent shooting in all.
Brainerd junior guard Ben Gervais (5) drove through two Alexandria defenders to score two of his 15 points in Friday's game. Brainerd Dispatch/ Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"They had won four in a row so we were excepting a high-paced game and we were ready for that," Warriors guard Ben Gravies said. "I wasn't expecting a tempo that slow."
Warriors coach Matte Urbanek credited his team's defense for Alexandria's offensive woes.
"We really got out on their shooters and took away their 3-point shots," he said. "They didn't shoot very well the first half but I think a lot of that was because of our defense.
Brainerd sophomore center Aaron Pavek (34) put up a shot while defended by Alexandria's Kelby Jennissen in Friday's game. Pavek scored 11 points and was 5 of 10 from the field. Brainerd Dispatch/ Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"I was real pleased with our defensive effort the first half. We knew their shooters would make some shots in the second half. Alexandria is a good team. They had won four games in a row. They have three or four really good shooters. We expected them to make shots."
Both teams made more shots in the season opener, won 71-70 by the Warriors on Dec. 13.
"That was our the first game of the year," sophomore post Aaron Pavek said. "We were still adjusting. We really hadn't been playing our style of up and down yet. We were more controlled this game. We just played better defense and were more careful with the ball."
Alexandria stepped up the pace in the second half, outscoring the Warriors 31-30. Four times the Cardinals got within six points but each time Brainerd pulled away.
Leading 49-43 with 2:10 remaining, the Warriors scored the game's last nine points, seven at the foul line. Jon Wiese sank four free throws, Jed Magstadt two and Gervais one.
"In the second half we kind of had to hang on a little bit but we made plays when we had to," Urbanek said. "Our guards handled the ball well and I thought we shared the ball very well. I thought our unselfishness was very good. We hit the open man and moved the ball."
Warriors 58, Alexandria 43
The key: Brainerd shot 49 percent from the field, 77 percent at the line.
Conference: Brd 6-4, Alx 3-7
Overall: Brd 8-5, Alx, 4-11
Next: Brainerd at Moorhead 5 p.m. Saturday.
Pavek was a beneficiary of his teammates' unselfishness. The 6-foot-5 sophomore scored 11 points and was 5 of 10 from the field.
"Mikey (Valesano) was down there, dishing me the ball," Pavek said, "and I was cutting in the lanes. It just opened everything up."
Gervais came off the bench to score 15 points. Magstadt added nine and Wiese eight off the bench.
"It's no biggie to any of us," Gervais said. "We don't care who starts. It's a team effort."
In the first half the Cardinals made 3 of 23 shots and trailed 28-12.
The most excitement generated in the first may have been Pavek's missed, backboard-vibrating dunk. The Warriors capitalized when they got into the front court, making 12 of 21 shots. They had runs of seven and 10 points in the half, during which Gervais scored eight.
The victory improved Brainerd to 8-5 overall.
"Our conference and section are tough," Urbanek said. "There's never an easy out with anybody. At the same time we know we can compete with anybody on our schedule.
"I think this is a fun team to watch. We're playing a lot of hard-nosed defense and we're playing a lot of guys. Guys are going up and down the court and playing full-court basketball. It's been a fun group to coach and I think a fun group to watch."
Alexandria 12 31 - 43
Brainerd 28 30 - 58
Steve Conley 10, Charlie Warnes 12, Connor Illies 3, Gordy Diekman 6, Jesse Hafdal 6, Kelby Jennissen 1, Walker Giroux 2. FG: 11-44 (25 percent), FT: 16-20. 3-point baskets: Illies 2, Diekman, Hafdal 2. Turnovers: 20.
Jed Magstadt 9, Kyle Crocker 4, Mike Valesano 2, Kyle Schaible 2, Aaron Pavek 11, Ben Gervais 15, Sam Feyder 5, Jon Wiese 8, Turner Johnson 2. FG: 19-39 (49 percent), FT: 17-22. 3-point baskets: Crocker, Gervais 2. Turnovers: 19.
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at email@example.com and at 855-5861.
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