It was a game the Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team thought it should win.
The Alexandria Cardinals entered Tuesday's game with six losses in Central Lakes Conference play and 13 overall, nearly identical to the Warriors' records.
But the Warriors were outplayed in virtually every aspect of the game as Alexandria rolled to a 61-49 win that wasn't as close as the score. Brainerd chipped away at the Cardinals' 22-point edge in the last three minutes with full-court pressure and trapping defense to close the final margin to 12.
Alexandria shot a torrid 63 percent from the field compared to Brainerd's 43 percent. The taller Cardinals also dominated the boards, outrebounding Brainerd 26-12.
"I don't think we were as emotional and as intense as we usually are," Warriors coach Brad Amundson said. "Part of that was a credit to them. For us to be successful we have to be intense and show a little emotion. Tonight, we didn't have that.
"We've still got a lot of season left (three games). We have to be ready Friday to play Little Falls. They've got a couple losses. We will need a lot more energy Friday night."
The win energized Alexandria, which hadn't won since Feb. 1, and snapped a four-game losing streak. The Cardinals relied on the inside punch of 6-foot-6 posts Mark Lovrien and Charley Good, who combined for 17 points. Lovrien was 6 of 8 from the floor. They also helped Alexandria box out against the Warriors.
"(Brainerd) didn't get many second shots," Alexandria coach John Holsten said. "We had a size advantage. We should be able to control the boards on them."
Alexandria's perimeter players helped the Cardinals control the game. Keith Eckhoff (6-2) contributed 14 points, point guard Kevin Cunniff scored 12 and Tyler Peterson (6-3) added 10 points. The Cardinals also received a boost from Isaac Hartsell, who came off the bench to make two threes and finish with eight points.
"The guys we didn't think could score from the outside were hitting tonight," Amundson said. "They showed up tonight. They shot the ball extremely well. You've got to give them credit. Everybody they had on their team shot well. They were 6-for-12 in the first half from three-point. That was the big difference."
The Cardinals flew to a 23-12 first-quarter edge, missing only three shots and built a 34-20 halftime lead as they outscored Brainerd 11-7 in the quarter. Alexandria shot 61 percent (14 of 23) in the first half and 67 percent (10 of 15) in the second. The Cardinals finished 7 of 15 from three-point range.
"In the game previous to this we shot 37 percent," Holsten said. "This time we shot a little better. When we make shots we look like a better basketball team."
Justin Heitkamp led Brainerd, which lost its third straight game, with 13 points. Jorgen Hartje added 10 and Mike Zauhar nine.
Alexandria 23 11 15 12 -- 61
Brainerd 13 7 13 16 -- 49
Kevin Cunniff 12, Keith Eckhoff 14, Tyler Peterson 10, Mark Lovrien 12, Charley Good 5, Isaac Hartsell 8. Team totals: FG 24-38 (63 percent), FT 6-10 (60 percent). Conference -- 5-6. Overall -- 7-13.
Joe Morgan 4, Mike Zauhar 9, Jorgen Hartje 10, Justin Heitkamp 13, Matt Means 4, Derrick LaPointe 5, Bryce Cloutier 2, Jake Phillips 2. Team totals: FG 20-46 (43 percent), FT 4-7 (57 percent). Conference -- 3-8. Overall -- 7-14. Next game: host Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Friday.
3-point baskets -- A 7-15 (Cunniff 3, Eckhoff 2, Hartsell 2), B 5-16 (Heitkamp 3, Hartje 2). Rebounds -- A 26 (Peterson 4), B 12 (Zauhar 4). Turnovers -- A 15, B 10. Total fouls -- A 11, B 11. Assists -- A 16 (Lovrien 4), B 14 (Karlgaard 5). Steals -- A 2, B 5 (Hartje 2). Blocks -- A 2, B 1 (Heitkamp).
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