The Brainerd Warriors played as close to perfection as a high school team can get.
The Warriors shot 56 percent in the first half. What shots it missed, Brainerd collected the offensive rebound to score 14 second-chance points in the opening half.
That helped Brainerd cruise to an 81-47 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Sauk Rapids Storm Tuesday at Brainerd High School. The Warriors' 81 points is a season high and the victory tagged the Storm with their eighth straight loss.
Ten different Warriors scored with junior Kayla Huether's 21 leading the way. Brainerd dominated the paint as junior Karlye Barron scored 17 points and junior Stephanie Neugebauer added 15. Six of Barron's points were off of offensive rebounds.
"A lot of it was just grabbing the rebound and putting it back in," said Barron. "Size-wise they were a much smaller team than we were. Down low we had a lot of chances to put the ball back and our teammates threw the ball inside to us a lot and we just finished it off."
Brainerd girls' basketball coach Carl Hendrickson discussed strategy during a timeout Tuesday in Brainerd. The Warriors topped the Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm 83-47. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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Because of the Warriors' command in the post they attempted 11 more shots than Sauk Rapids. They also held the Storm to few second opportunities.
"We went to a straight motion offense tonight just to put the ball inside because we knew they didn't have the size that we had," said Hendrickson. "I thought our post players did a good job of either putting the ball in or getting a foul. When we took a shot and it didn't go down, we did a good job of getting the rebound and putting it back in."
Brainerd shot 32-of-65 from the field (49 percent). Sauk Rapids shot a respectable 44 percent, but attempted 22 fewer shots. The Storm faltered at the line, shooting 32 percent (9-28).
The Warriors jumped out to a 12-2 lead as all five starters scored in the first four minutes. Huether scored 13 first-half points and Barron and Neugebauer both scored eight. Megan Bates scored seven of her nine points in the opening half. That helped Brainerd build a 42-23 halftime lead.
The second half belonged to the seniors on senior night. All four seniors scored. Abby Ahlberg finished with four points, Stacey Butler tallied six and Kelsey McDowell drained a long three, her only shot. Bridget Badger connected on two free throws, making Brainerd's fifth victory in six games nearly perfect.
Warriors 83, Sauk Rapids 47
The key: Every Warrior who played scored, leading Brainerd to its highest offensive output of the season
Conf: Brd 12-4, SR 3-12
Overall: Brd 16-8, SR 4-19
Next game: Brainerd hosts Alexandria 7:30 p.m. Friday
"Our kids were pretty excited for our seniors," said Hendrickson. "It was nice to see all of our seniors in the game at the same time. Then we got (Kelsey) to make a big three for us. It's stuff like that that makes basketball special, especially this time of year when you're winding down and it's getting close to tournaments and yet you want to recognize your seniors and they played with a lot of heart tonight."
Sauk Rapids 23 24 - 47
Brainerd 42 41 - 83
Katie Christian 10, Leah Schmidt 4, Jesse Warzecha 17, Alicia Yankovec 5, Nina Getchell 4, Kayla Partch 4, Crystal Benoit 3. Team totals: FG 19-43 ( 44 percent), FT 9-28 (32 percent), 3-point baskets: 0-4 .
Stephanie Neugebauer 15, Kayla Huether 21, Megan Bates 9, Stacey Butler 6, Karlye Barron 17, Abby Ahlberg 4, Emily Thesing 4, Bridget Badger 2, Kelsey McDowell 3, Jessie Marolt 2. Team totals: FG 32-65 (49 percent), FT 14-20 (70 percent), 3-point baskets: 4-17 (Huether 3, McDowell 1).
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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