When an opposing basketball player gets a hot hand most of the time a team can withstand it and keep the game from getting out of hand.
But what happens when an entire team gets hot?
That's the predicament the Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team found themselves in Friday in their Central Lakes Conference game against the Sauk Rapids Storm.
The Storm shot a blistering 75 percent from the field as they outscored Brainerd 27-7 in the third quarter. The result was a 68-52 Brainerd loss, its third straight.
"Sauk Rapids really took it to us and we backed down," Warriors coach Matt Urbanek said. "They outscored us by 20 points in the third quarter and they won by 16 so the third was really the key to the game."
Storm guard John Cloeter, who was held to only two points in the first half, exploded for 13 points in the third quarter on 5-of-6 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Fellow guard Matt Pelzer added eight points in the quarter on 4-4 shooting. For the game, Sauk Rapids shot 52 percent.
It was a different game in the first half. Brainerd held the Storm to 2-14 shooting in the first quarter as it built an 11-point lead. It could have been a 20-point lead had Brainerd been able to make its layups. The Warriors missed several layins close to the basket.
"We came out and played pretty well to start the game," Urbanek said. "We had some confidence going and we could've been up by more because we missed some easy shots."
The Warriors maintained their 11-point lead midway through the second, thanks to Blake Eller's driving ability and Zach Eastman's outside shooting. Eastman finished with a team-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Justin Mueller added 14 and Eller 10.
But Sauk Rapids started feeding the ball to 6-foot-5 Nate Moeller in the second, and like a rabbit in a magic act, Brainerd's lead went poof.
Moeller scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the second quarter on 5-6 shooting. He used a soft, turnaround jump shot that Brainerd couldn't stop.
"We had a real hard time guarding Moeller inside," Urbanek said. "We tried a lot of different things. We played behind the post to try and give us a better rebounding position. Then we brought double teams. We doubled down from the wing. Then we went into a zone and he seemed to be able to score in all of those scenarios. He's a tough player."
But it was that dreadful third quarter in which Brainerd needed an answer the most. Unfortunately, the Warriors came up empty.
"We had to be mentally tough and weather the storm," said Urbanek. "We needed to step up our defense and go on a run ourselves. We need to learn that when a team goes on a run that we need to step up and not back down."
Sauk Rapids 4 17 27 20 -- 68
Brainerd 13 10 7 22 -- 52
John Cloeter 17, Nate Moeller 23, Leon Brwonell 4, Matt Pelzer 16, Antoine Glover 4, David Goulet 2, Andrew Pederson 2. Team totals: FG 30-57 (52.6 percent), FT 5-8 (62.5 percent). 3-point baskets: 3 (Cloeter 3). Conference -- 5-7. Overall -- 8-11.
Justin Mueller 14, Blake Eller 10, Zach Eastman 16, Lucas Brick 0, Adian Kummet 2, Ryan Forcier 4, Spencer Sundberg 3, Chris Munsch 3. Team totals: FG 20-49 (40.8 percent), FT 6-9 (66.7 percent). 3-point baskets: 6 (Eastman 4, Sundberg, Munsch). Conference -- 2-12. Overall -- 4-17. Next game: at Minnetonka 6 p.m. Saturday.
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