Playing without two starters for two four-minute overtimes, the Brainerd Warriors' prospects weren't encouraging.
But the Warriors who played on (starters Stephanie Neugebauer, Kayla Huether and Stacey Butler), and reserves (Emily Thesing, Abby Ahlberg, Jessie Marolt and Nikker Graumann) battled gallantly.
Unfortunately, the one break the Warriors needed went sixth-seeded Buffalo's way as the Bison stunned No. 3 Brainerd 71-70 in double overtime in the Section 8-4A quarterfinals Tuesday.
Thesing's basket with 28 seconds left in the second overtime put Brainerd ahead 70-69. The teams traded possessions until 8.4 seconds remained with Buffalo calling timeout.
On the inbounds pass, the Bison's Miranda Speckel drove the lane but had the ball stripped. The loose ball ended up in the hands of teammate Kelly Cinquegrani, who banked in a five-footer as time expired.
Brainerd guard Emily Thesing drove to the basket in the Warriors' Section 8-4A quarterfinal game against Buffalo Tuesday night in Brainerd. The Warriors lost 71-70 in double overtime. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Brainerd led 65-61 and 67-63 in the second overtime but the Bison answered in a contest that featured 12 ties.
Warrior starters Megan Bates and Karlye Barron fouled out in the final 97 seconds of regulation. Bates exited with 14 points, Barron with eight points and seven rebounds.
"When you lose a couple kids that start for you and they're sitting on the bench for two overtimes, that tells you you had to have a gut check by the kids that came off bench," Warriors coach Carl Hendrickson said. "We hung in there. I'm proud of the way the girls performed in two overtimes.
"We had the lead a few times in overtime, we just didn't take care of the ball a few times or get a big rebound when we should have. When you don't do little things, when it comes down to the end of the game that's what happens, they get open and stick it back in."
Buffalo entered the game 9-16. The Bison play in the Mississippi 8 Conference, three of whose members (Becker, Rogers and Cambridge) received No. 1 seeds in their sections.
In non-conference games the Bison played Hopkins, Osseo, Coon Rapids and Wayzata.
Kelsey McDowell (left) and Megan Bates hugged after the Brainerd Warrior girls' basketball team lost its Section 8-4A quarterfinal game to Buffalo in double overtime 71-70 Tuesday at Brainerd High School. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"We knew we had some fight in us," Buffalo coach Scot Sorenson said. "We had some real good games this year and we played a tough schedule. Our record maybe didn't resemble the ability we have. Maybe we were out to prove that tonight.
"Our girls came to play, but so did the Brainerd girls. They were knocking down shot after shot."
Buffalo went ahead 28-26 at halftime when Hannah Rohl was fouled while shooting a three. She sank two free throws with no time showing.
Regulation ended 52-52 as Thesing missed a baseline jumper in the final 10 seconds and Buffalo's missed a shot at the buzzer.
The Warriors led 61-59 late in the first overtime but Speckel's putback with six seconds to go forced a second overtime.
Huether led all scorers with 24 points. Thesing came off the bench to contribute 13 points. Neugebauer added nine points and eight rebounds.
Buffalo 71, Warriors 70 (2OT)
The key: Kelly Cinquegrani's putback at the buzzer gave the Bison the victory
Overall: Buffalo 10-16, Brd finishes 17-8
Brainerd finishes 17-9 but returns four starters and four other underclassmen next season.
"We're really happy with the season, the way it went," Hendrickson said. "In the second season we had some expectations that we didn't meet.
"We've got to regroup. We're looking forward to next year as far as doing a better job when we get into section play. Our kids played with a lot of heart. That's all you can ask."
Buffalo 28 24 9 10 - 71
Brainerd 26 26 9 9 - 70
Kelly Cinquegrani 14, Miranda Speckel 15, Calleigh Brown 4, Rachel Grave 2, Hannah Rohl 6, JaRae Ellefson 17, Kristin Jeske 8, Taylor Johnson 3, Deanne Bechtold 2. FG 26-67, FT 16-27. Three-point baskets: 3 (Jeske 2, Ellefson). Turnovers: 24. Rebounds: 36.
Stephanie Neugebauer 9, Kayla Huether 24, Megan Bates 14, Karlye Barron 8, Stacey Butler 2, Emily Thesing 13. FG 23-64, FT 17-20. Three-point baskets: 7 (Huether 4, Bates 2, Thesing). Turnovers: 23. Rebounds: 33 (Neugebauer 8, Barron 7, Ahlberg 5).
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 855-5861.
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