The third-seeded Brainerd Warriors and sixth-seeded St. Cloud Apollo Eagles girls' basketball teams are faced with the same dilemma. Each team must find a way to right the wrong.
Brainerd enters the opening round of the Section 8, Class 4A playoffs having lost seven of its last nine games. Apollo has lost its last six, starting with their 49-47 loss to Brainerd on Feb. 1.
Despite the sudden down streak for the Warriors, they aren't worried, knowing the playoffs are a new season.
"It seems like we've been losing a lot, but they've all been close," Brainerd senior forward Laura Bogenschutz said. "We know now's the time to step it up. We have to start new.
"This is my last chance. I think all of us are looking to go some place. Last year we didn't make it past the first round so this year we're a little more focused on what we have to do."
In order for the Warriors to beat Apollo for the third time this season Warriors coach Carl Hendrickson is stressing three things.
"We know this is the start of a new season," said Hendrickson. "If we want to make a serious run we have to do three things. We have to play better defense as a team. We have to do a better job on the boards as a team, and we have to be more patient on offense."
Brainerd beat Apollo early in December, 42-38. This time they expect to see much of the same thing from the Eagles.
"They have good size with two girls 6-foot-2," said Hendrickson. "They have been mixing up their defense with man-to-man and zone of late.
"They force you to score from outside. Teams are having to shoot the ball well to score on them. Any time you play a lot of zone and you're good at it you force teams to have to shoot from outside. We have to make sure to move the ball well and find the open shot."
The top three scorers for Brainerd are Lisa Renneke, who's averaging 12.3 points per game, senior Amber Haapajoki at 10.7 and Bogenschutz at 8.7.
For Apollo, 6-foot-2 junior Tara Schloe is averaging 13.5 points followed by Jill Mark, a 5-7 sophomore, with 12.9. Laura Kutzera, a 6-1 senior, is averaging 6.3.
"They really do a nice job of getting the ball inside to their big people," said Hendrickson. "When you double down on them they're good at kicking it back out. So you have to cover the inside and outside well.
"We have a couple of things we're going to do a little differently. We're mixing it up defensively, try and get the ball out and get some transition baskets if we can."
Besides the two post players Brainerd has to worry about Mark waiting for the kick out from behind the arc.
"Mark is a sophomore this year and she pretty much controls the pace of the game," said Bogenschutz. "They look to her to get the offense going. She likes to drive the lane and create different things."
If the Warriors win they will face second-seeded Moorhead on Saturday at a neutral site at 7 p.m. Brainerd lost to Moorhead 56-49 on Feb. 12.
In the other game Thursday, fourth-seeded Duluth East faces fifth-seeded St. Cloud Tech. The winner of that game will face top-seeded Bemidji on Saturday night.
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