MOORHEAD -- As was the case nearly all season, the Brainerd Warriors' effort couldn't be faulted.
Unfortunately, their effort didn't show up in the win column as seventh-seeded Brainerd was defeated 57-47 by the No. 2 Moorhead Spuds in the quarterfinals of the Section 8, Class 4A boys' basketball tournament Tuesday.
Brainerd, which finishes 5-21, left everything on the court. It shot 44 percent from the field compared to the Spuds' 35 percent. It led at halftime (23-22) and trailed only 36-34 after three quarters.
The Warriors trailed 42-41 with 4:04 remaining when Moorhead began to hit its shots and forced Brainerd out of its zone defense. The Spuds outscored Brainerd 15-6 the rest of the way. The Warriors did not attempt a free throw in the second half.
"I think our effort was second to none (Tuesday)," Warriors coach Matt Urbanek said. "I thought we came out with a lot of intensity. I thought we came out and played extremely hard. I thought we executed the game plan fairly well.
"It was just a case of not enough shots falling late in the game, which has kind of been the case for us all year."
The shots began to fall in the fourth quarter for Moorhead. It made nine of 10 free throws down the stretch and shot 56 percent in the fourth after shooting only 30 percent through three quarters.
"This was not your typical 5-20 team," Spuds coach Chuck Gulsvig said of Brainerd. "Looking at their record, the scores throughout the year, I think there was one team that really blew them out, maybe two.
"And, they give you some bad matchup problems. They're difficult to zone because of their good shooters. They're difficult to play man-to-man because they take it to the basket hard. I was not surprised at their play at all. It was exactly what I had anticipated."
Moorhead 57, Warriors 47
Late surge: The Spuds made nine of 10 free throws down the stretch and shot 56 percent in the fourth quarter. The Warriors finished 5-21 on the season.
Spuds point guard Andrew Larson led all scorers with 19 points, scoring 11 in the decisive fourth as he drained 6 of 6 free-throw attempts.
Lucas Brick scored 13 points to lead Brainerd. He finished 4 of 6 from the field. Justin Mueller added 12 points.
"I thought we did a good job taking the ball to the basket," Urbanek said. "We wanted to get to the rim (Tuesday) and make some things happen, and I thought we did that.
"I thought we did a pretty good job defensively. We held them to 22 points in the first half. I think we got worn out by their trapping and pressing because it takes a lot of work to get the ball across half court and beat pressure defense."
Brainerd's zone limited the Spuds to 21 percent shooting (3 of 14) in the second period, during which the Warriors outscored them 13-9. Brainerd shot 45 percent (5 of 11) during the quarter while shoving Moorhead to the perimeter for many shots.
The Spuds' Nick Jaroszewski, a 6-foot-4 senior post, had success inside in the first half, scoring nine points. He finished with 16.
Moorhead opened an 8-2 lead in the first thanks to a six-point run and ended the quarter with a 13-10 edge.
Brainerd 10 13 11 13 -- 47
Moorhead 13 9 14 21 -- 57
Blake Eller 8, Justin Mueller 12, Zach Eastman 7, Lucas Brick 13, Adian Kummet 4, Ryan Forcier 2, Gabe Solseth 1. Team totals: FG 19-43 (44 percent), FT 5-7 (71 percent). Overall -- Finish 5-21.
Andrew Larson 19, Lucas Wolford 7, Nick Jaroszewski 16, Ben Roller 4, Willie Roller 7, David Cullom 2, Justin Heide 2. FG 18-52 (35 percent), FT 15-18 (83 percent). Overall -- 19-7. Next game -- vs. St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m. Saturday, section semifinals.
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