LITTLE FALLS -- The Little Falls Flyers boys' basketball team had lost four of five games as Kendall Feia was out with a hernia injury.
Feia, a 6-foot-3 junior, is the Flyers' second-leading scorer, leading rebounder and one of their top defenders.
Minus Feia the Flyers have relied even more on their leading scorer, junior point guard Nate Miller. The 5-9 Miller apparently doesn't mind the additional burden as he poured in 30 points against the Brainerd Warriors on Thursday in a 58-52 Central Lakes Conference win.
With Warrior defenders draped all over him, Miller was still 10 of 17 from the field and 7 of 7 at the foul line. His effort helped the Flyers raise their conference record to 5-6 and their overall mark to 9-8.
"He's a college basketball player right now," Brainerd coach Brad Amundson said of Miller. "He just drains, and drains and drains them. We could not have done anything better than we did on him. We did everything we could on him and he still scored 30 points. They were extremely hard-fought points."
Miller can shoot the three and create his own shots in traffic. He also is the Flyers' top playmaker. He collected seven assists Thursday. Miller said he's confident of the Flyers' skill even with Feia out.
"Everybody on our team has the ability to score," Miller said. "If I have the shot I'll take it but I will dish because I have confidence we can put the ball in the hole."
Neither team found the hoop with regularity. Brainerd was 17 of 64 (27 percent) from the floor and the Flyers 19 of 49 (39 percent). In the second half the Warriors made only seven baskets and Little Falls eight.
"Credit goes to their defense," Amundson said. "We had good shots. I don't think we forced anything. We had good looks. They just didn't go in the hole.
"We will continue to take the same shots. We have to keep the faith, keep confident and sooner or later they are going to fall."
Despite the shooting woes the game was close throughout. Brainerd led five times, the Flyers led six and the score was tied seven.
Brainerd led 30-27 at halftime. The Flyers scraped ahead 43-39 after three quarters thanks to a 12-point run after halftime.
In the final period the Warriors tied it 43-43 and 46-46. Eventually, they trailed 55-52 with a minute left following a Mitch Feierabend basket. A free throw by Chris Bell with 18.9 seconds left and two foul shots by Ben Smith with three seconds remaining locked up the Flyers' win.
Miller had 15 points in the first half, 24 through three quarters. He added six in the final period. It was Miller's fourth 30-point game this season.
"Nate played on the same AAU team with a couple (Brainerd) guys," Little Falls coach Kevin Jordan said. "The last time up there he felt like it wasn't his best ballgame. He was really motivated to go out there and do well. "
Brainerd 11 19 9 13 -- 52
Little Falls 9 18 16 15 --58
Mitch Feierabend 12, Matt Yde 11, Dan Karlgaard 0, Joe Morgan 5, Mike Zauhar 8, Adam Hardy 4, Justin Heitkamp 12. Team totals: FG 17-64 (27 percent), FT 15-20 (75 percent). Conference -- 2-9. Overall -- 4-13. Next game: Saturday at Mankato West 2:45 p.m.
Little Falls (58)
Nate Miller 30, Nick Dahl 9, Paul Martin 0, Mark Kasella 7, Ben Smith 6, Chris Bell 1, Tony Golden 4, Matt Martin 1. Team totals: FG 19-49 (39 percent), FT 15-22 (68 percent). Conference -- 5-6. Overall -- 9-8. Next game: Saturday at Bemidji 7:30 p.m.
3-point baskets -- B 3-22 (Heitkamp 2, Yde), LF 5-18 (Miller 3, Dahl 2). Rebounds -- B 35 (Yde 10), LF 29 (Miller 4). Total fouls -- B 22, LF 18. Fouled out -- Feierabend, P. Martin. Assists -- B 11 (Yde 5), LF 12 (Miller 7).
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