Depending on how you look at it the Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team either played a bad game or they played the best game of the year.
Brainerd shot 23-61 for just 38 percent, but they played smothering defense allowing the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks only 45 attempts and only six fourth quarter points to come away with a 64-54 non-conference win Tuesday at the Brainerd High School.
"We missed some lay-ups tonight," said Brainerd head coach Brad Amundson. "You can't control if it goes in. The bottom line is when you miss a shot what are you doing? You have to keep playing hard and keep making things happen and sooner or later it will fall and that's what we did."
With a combined effort the Warriors found a way to score their points despite shooting so poorly. Brainerd missed six open lay-ups and shot 8-22 (36 percent) from behind the arc. In the first quarter it was seniors Matt Yde and Mitch Feierabend getting all of Brainerd's 17 first quarter points.
In the second quarter it was junior Joe Morgan's two big three's that kept the game tied. In the second half it was Mike Zauhar scoring all of his 12 points.
With constant trapping and man-to-man pressure defense they forced Grand Rapids into 25 turnovers and held their second leading scorer Eric Webb scoreless.
"We turned the ball over just a few to many times tonight," Thunderhawks head coach Rod Eidelbes said. "They did a few things like double-teaming the basketball. We had a couple of inexperienced guys playing in the backcourt and they took advantage of that."
With the score tied 29-29 after the half both teams came out on fire. Grand Rapids's center Brady Warner scored 12 of the Thunderhawks 19 points.
"They would start him (Warner) on the outside and then roll him down in the post and we were getting hung-up in there," said Amundson. "He was doing a nice job of sealing our guy and we were supposed to be fronting him. They recognized that he was sealing us off and they got him the ball."
For the Warriors it was the combination of Zauhar and Justin Heikamp who carried much of the load. With the score 37-36 Zauhar scored five consecutive points, giving Brainerd a four-point lead.
"The team was playing good we just couldn't get the ball in the hole," said Zauhar. "I just figured I needed to settle down in the second half and play good defense to help my offense. I did that and the team started coming around in the half and we got a good lead."
After an Yde basket it was Heitkamp's turn getting five of his seven points to give the Warriors a three point lead going into the last frame.
In the last frame the Warriors controlled the tempo with their defense holding Grand Rapids to just three field goals and six points.
"They were setting a lot of ball screens," said Amundson. "We knew that coming in and the kids did a really good job of recognizing that. What we like to do is we like to trap the ball screens and the kids did a good job of that. It's not an easy thing to do. You have to communicate and rotate on defense."
The Warriors scrapped together 13 points in the final quarter to give them their sixth win.
Grand Rapids 15 14 19 6 -- 54
Brainerd 17 12 22 13 -- 64
GRAND RAPIDS (54)
Tim Gillson 20, Eric Webb 0, Brady Warner 20, Dom Flood 2, Ryan Flood 9, Dana Benton 3. Team totals: FG 22-45 (48 percent), FT 6-10 (60 percent). Conference -- 5-1. Overall -- 6-16.
Matt Yde 18, Dan Karlgaard 2, Joe Morgan 8, Mitch Feierabend 11, Mike Zauhar 12, Adam Hardy 2, Justin Heitkamp 7, Derick LaPointe 2. Team totals: FG 23-61 (38 percent), FT 10-18 (55 percent). Conference -- 3-10. Overall -- 6-15. Next game: At Willmar Friday at 7:30 p.m.
3-point baskets -- B-8 (Yde 3, Morgan 2, Zauhar 2, Heitkamp); GR-4 (Gillson 4). Rebounds -- B 41(Yde 13, Feierabend 10), GR 31. Turnovers -- B 11, GR 25. Total fouls -- B 14, GR 18. Assists -- B 20 (Karlgaard 6), GR 17. Steals -- B 16 (Yde 3, Heitkamp 3), GR 2.
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