LITTLE FALLS - On Jan. 24, the Little Falls Flyers traveled to Brainerd and came away on the short end of an 89-77 score.
In that game the Warriors got out in transition and ran up and down the floor in almost reaching the 90-point mark.
In an amazing turnaround from that game, Little Falls held Brainerd to just 49 points for the game on Thursday in a Central Lakes Conference game and came away with an impressive 68-49 win before a parent's night crowd.
Nick Erdrich led all scorers with 23 points and Ronnie Kornbaum added 21 for Little Falls.
Ben Gervais led the Warriors with 15 points and Kyle Crocker and Aaron Pavek each had 10.
Little Falls coach Kevin Jordan didn't see this kind of a game coming from his team.
"Not a chance, not a chance," he said. "We had three days to get ready for them but this was the last thing that entered my mind.
"We knew Brainerd was a great team, we knew we would have to play hard, we would have to play smart to be in it to do the kind of thing they did against us the first time we played them."
The Flyers (4-13 conference, 10-14 overall) jumped out to a 10-2 lead on the Warriors (9-8, 12-11) and led 31-22 at the half.
Brainerd matched Little Falls' intensity early in the game but turnovers were the big issue. The Warriors kicked away opportunities to get back in the game after Little Falls' 10-2 run.
"Right off the bat we turned the ball over a bunch of times, they jumped out to an early lead and they kind of maintained that lead through the whole first half," said Brainerd coach Matt Urbanek.
Alex Scott, Erdrich and Ronnie Kornbaum all had a good first half with nine, 11, and nine points, respectively, to help the Flyers build their lead to 31-22 going into halftime.
Gervais kept things from getting out of hand for the Warriors with four baskets from behind the arc.
The Warriors were able to grab momentum briefly in the second half with a six-point run. They also played with intensity but turnovers would keep them from cutting deeper into the Flyer lead.
"We came out to start the second half, made a little run and had some momentum going," said Urbanek "We had opportunities to cut it down even lower, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We either turned it over or made a poor decision on offense. It seemed like we could never get over that four- or six-point hump."
Brainerd was able to cut the lead to 42-36 at the 10-minute mark. The teams traded baskets four the next two minutes before Erdrich took over with 11 points in the last 10 minutes as the Warrior defense came apart.
"We just played very poorly," Urbanek said. "Our perimeter defense was absolutely atrocious, our ballhandling was terrible, our passing was pathetic, and our defense was very poor. We didn't step in and cut anybody off on a pass to the basket, we kind of let them go by us. You can't play that way and win because this is always a tough place to play.
"But I thought our guys never quit. I thought our effort level was there but our execution and our performance tonight was very poor."
Jordan saw a team that was familiar with its opponent but also came together as a unit.
"Our guys did a great job of guarding their personnel," he said. "They know (Brainerd) better than I do. They've played summer ball and traveling ball against them. Our guys just went out there and played as a team, and executed offensively better than they have all year long."
Brainerd closes out the regular season at home against St. Cloud Tech and has a chance to put a good taste in its mouth before the section tournament.
"It wasn't a very smooth performance on our part," Urbanek said. "We'll go back to work (Friday) in practice and put a better performance on the basketball court Saturday night against (St. Cloud) Tech."
Brainerd 22 27 - 49
Little Falls 31 37 - 68
Jed Magstadt 4, Ben Gervais 15, Kyle Crocker 10, Mike Valesano 8, T.J. Struss 2, Aaron Pavek 10. Team totals: FT 1-4 (25 percent), 3-point baskets: (Gervais 5, Crocker 3). Conference: 9-8. Overall: 12-11. Next: hosts St. Cloud Tech 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Alex Scott 12, John Dunlap 2, Nick Erdrich 23, Dan Kornbaum 6, Ronnie Kornbaum 21, Ethan Mustonen 2, Zach Horejsi 2. Team totals: FT 13-19 (68 percent), 3-point baskets: (Scott 2, Erdrich 2, Kornbaum 1). Conference: 10-14. Overall: 4-13. Next: at Alexandria 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
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