Entering Friday night's game against Alexandria, Amber Haapajoki had lost to the Cardinals four times this year -- three times in volleyball and once in basketball. So she had a personal quest to finally beat them.
Unfortunately for her and her Brainerd Warrior teammates, the fifth time was not a charm as the Cardinals methodically took the game away in the second half to win 57-39 in a Central Lakes Conference game.
The Warriors hung with the sixth-ranked Cardinals in the first half, but senior forward Lindsay Hartmann and the Cardinals took over the tempo in the third and chipped away at the Warriors' hopes for the upset.
"Haapajoki was guarding (Hartmann) and she had three fouls so I think she was a little apprehensive about going out and guarding her too closely to pick up that fourth foul," said Warriors head coach Carl Hendrickson. "When you've got three fouls you can't worry about that. You have to go out and play the same way you have been playing."
Hartmann scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the third quarter, hitting two 3-point baskets that stole the momentum from Brainerd.
"We just wanted to beat them on the boards and on defense," said Haapajoki, who finished with 10 points. "I think we came out with a lot of intensity."
"In the third (quarter) we didn't put as much pressure on the ball. I didn't at least, and Hartmann scored a lot of points. She got them up in the quarter and they just went from there.
"We just wanted to kill them. It's always been that way for us against Alexandria. They're our biggest competitor."
The Warriors went into halftime only down by four points. Lisa Renneke had seven of her 11 in the first half to keep the Warriors close. Both teams shot nine of 22 from the field but the Cardinals went to the charity line eight more times and converted four to gain the four-point advantage.
"I just wanted to make sure they didn't get a big jump on us and hit a big spurt," said Hendrickson. "That's what they did at their place. I was very happy with the way we played the first half. We kept it to a four-point game."
In the third quarter Brainerd couldn't find the bottom of the net, hitting only three of 11 shots. The Cardinals, however, went 7-for-12 and doubled-up Brainerd 19 points to eight.
"They practiced our plays well during the week and they knew exactly where we were going," said Haapajoki. "We had to try and fix that but they still were right on us."
Fouls were a big problem for the Warriors as they committed 19 to the Cardinals' eight, giving Alexandria 23 attempts from the line while Brainerd shot only three.
"We tell the kids we need to execute like a machine," said Cardinals coach Wendy Kohler. "Brainerd plays excellent defense and you're not going to get something off the first pass against them."
Alexandria 13 11 19 14 -- 57
Brainerd 11 9 8 11 -- 39
Lindsey Spoden 9, Nicole Whiting 6, Amber Malvin 10, Stacy Senden 2, Chelsea Hendricks 12, Lindsay Hartmann 16, Chandra Cunniff 2. Team totals: FG 19-43 (44 percent), FT 15-23 (65 percent). Conference -- 9-1. Overall -- 14-2.
Lisa Renneke 11, Laura Bogenschutz 2, Cassey Veith 10, Amber Haapajoki 10, Kali Hendrickson 2, Annie Zauhar 2, Megan Arns 2. Team totals: FG 17-44 (39 percent), FT 2-3 (66 percent). Conference -- 7-4. Overall -- 11-7. Next game: Host Moorhead Feb. 12, 3 p.m.
3-point baskets -- B 3-12 (Veith 2, Renneke); A 4-8 (Hartmann). Rebounds -- B 21 (Doyscher 6, Bogenschutz 4), A 26. Turnovers -- B 17, 12. Total fouls -- B 19, A 8. Assists -- B 10 (Renneke 3). Steals -- B 8 (Renneke 3, Veith 2). Blocks -- B 2 (Renneke 1, Veith 1).
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