Behind strong interior defense and a team-leading 13 points from Karlye Barron, the Brainerd Warriors girls' basketball team beat Moorhead 53-48 to improve their record to 14-4 overall.
Megan Bates and Emily Thesing each reached double figures with 11 and 10 points each for the Warriors in the key Section 8-4A clash with the Spuds.
On a day when the 3-point shot was not falling, Brainerd did a nice job of getting the ball into the paint to set up shots and free-throw attempts.
"I think the perimeter people did a good job of putting the ball inside and we did a good job of finishing," said Barron. "We did miss a couple but we did a good job of getting to the free throw line."
The Warriors managed to get to the line 22 times while staying out of foul trouble on the defensive end of the floor.
"We need to be aggressive and take the ball to the basket when we see those opportunities," said Warriors coach Carl Hendrickson. "We opened up the court a little bit more in the second half and got some good looks inside."
Hendrickson also praised the overall defensive effort of his team.
"I thought we defended well today," he said. "We mixed up our defenses and caused a lot of turnovers."
Brainerd went into the game knowing it would need to stop Moorhead's two inside scorers, Kaitlyn Rogalla and Kassie Hooten. Brainerd jumped out to an 8-4 lead with Barron leading the way with four points in the paint and playing good defense.
The Spuds got their inside game going and outscored Brainerd 13-6 in the next five minutes to take a 17-14 lead.
"Moorhead is always a good competitive game for us," Hendrickson said. "They have good strength inside with Hooten and Rogalla, and then they bring Miki Stephenson in. That's tough to defend against."
After trailing 17-14 the Warriors turned up the intensity at the end of the first half with two key sequences.
The first was a 3-point play by Barron to put the Warriors up 23-22.
The second was a smart play by Kayla Huether at the end of the half. Taking the ball to the basket she was fouled and made both free throws to tie the game at 30 going to the half.
Brainerd also received a nice effort from Nikker Grauman, who added six points and solid defense off the bench.
In the second half, Brainerd controlled the first five minutes, outscoring Moorhead 11-1 behind five points by Thesing. The Warriors also played great defense early in the second half, which was what Hendrickson and Barron wanted to see.
"We knew that Hooten was a good player so we were trying to get out on her as much as we could," Barron said. "We played a zone so that we could get outside and inside to cover her. We worked and talked well together."
Hendrickson was also pleased with the effort after some shaky moments in the middle of the first half.
"We did a pretty good job defensively in the second half," Hendrickson said. "The first half I wasn't very happy giving up 30 points. We seemed to tighten the belt in the second half and switch defenses around."
The Warriors allowed the Spuds only 12 points from the field in the second half.
Having gotten the lead the Warriors then looked for opportunities to get inside and get to the foul line. The Spuds would get no closer than five.
"It's a big section game for us to determine seeding," Barron said. "Everyone looks at this game (against Moorhead) every year."
Hendrickson also thought the win was big.
"It was a good game for us here on our home floor playing against a good team," he said.
Moorhead 30 18 - 48
Brainerd 30 23 - 53
Stephanie Neugebauer 6, Kayla Huether 7, Megan Bates 11, Emily Thesing 10, Karlye Barron 13, Nikker Graumann 6. Team totals: FT 12-22 (55 percent), 3-point baskets: (Bates 1, Thesing 1). Overall: 14-4. Next: at Rocori 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Ashley Kassenborg 2, Sabrina Sam 4, Kelsey Johnson 2, Kaitlyn Rogalla 17, Kassie Hooten 17, Kasey Steckler 2, Miki Stephenson 4. Team totals: FT 10-15 (67 percent), 3-point baskets: (Hooten 2). Overall: 8-10.
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