The last 19 seconds of the Brainerd Warriors and Staples-Motley Cardinals girls' basketball game Saturday at Brainerd High School encapsulated the entire game.
Those 19 seconds were the longest in Brainerd's season. But the Warriors withstood two of their 23 turnovers to win the regular-season-ending game 50-48.
Down by two, the Cardinals created Brainerd's fifth fourth-quarter turnover. With possession, S-M called timeout, allowing head coach Ron Beachy to plot his plan.
To no one's surprise, Beachy wanted the ball in the hands of junior forward Michelle Honek. The lone returning starter from last year's state tournament team was on fire.
The time ticked down. The crowd noise swelled.
Honek set up her defender. The game's leading scorer, with 30 points, had no shot.
The clock ticked as the junior tried to drive.
Both benches stood. Both coaches screamed and Honek found an opening.
It wasn't a shot. Teammate Kendell Spar broke open among the madness. Honek found her, but the pass went high and out of bounds. It was S-M's 18th turnover.
Five seconds remained and Brainerd again tried moving the ball up the court. Again, S-M was there. Honek, who helped pull S-M back into the game with 14 fourth-quarter points, stole the ball and drove to the basket.
Honek turned the corner and drove baseline into a Warrior defender just three feet from the basket.
She turned to look for help but found none.
Honek could do nothing.
The buzzer rang.
"We just quit playing offense when it came down to crunch time," said Warriors coach Carl Hendrickson. "We didn't take care of the basketball obviously, but they made a nice run with some pressure that bothered us.
"We got rattled. It's just a good thing we were able to hold on to it."
Brainerd built what appeared to be an insurmountable lead thanks to seven of Julie Austin's team-high 13 points in the third quarter. After three quarters, S-M trailed 40-26.
Austin's points, along with senior Bithiah McDermott's 10, helped conceal Megan Arns' scoring drought. Brainerd's leading scorer was held to just two points in the last three quarters and ended with nine.
The loss hurt the Cardinals' Section 8, Class 2A seeding. Had they won, they would have earned a No. 1 seed. With the loss they're seeded third, but will still host a first-round game Tuesday.
"I tried to keep the pressure off of my girls," Beachy said about playing at Brainerd with section implications. "They're young kids. I just wanted to take that pressure off and still have them play good basketball. The way we came back in the first half, and then again in the second half, it was like the Adrenalin had to wear off."
Staples-Motley 5 13 8 22 -- 48
Brainerd 14 9 17 10 -- 50
Kendell Spar 4, Jacque Peterson 6, Rose Milless 2, Michelle Honek 30, Stephanie Jares 2, Kim Mosack 4. Team totals: FG 17-48 (35 percent), FT 13-17 (76 percent). Overall -- 13-8. Next game: Host first round-game In section 8, Class 2A playoffs Tuesday.
Julie Austin 13, Bithiah McDermott 10, Breanna Olson 6, Maria Swanson 8, Megan Arns 9, Haley Bower 4. Team totals: FG 22-49 (45 percent), FT 5-8 (63 percent). Overall -- 16-9. Next game: Host first-round game in Section 8, Class 4A playoffs Tuesday.
3-point baskets -- B 3 (Austin 3), SM 1 (Honek 1). Fouled out -- SM-Jares.
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