It's only two games into the season but it's obvious the Brainerd Warrior girls' basketball team is playing with an abundance of confidence.
The Warriors should be confident. They return four starters and their top reserve from last season. That experience showed Friday night in a 72-37 dismantling of the Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm.
All five starters ranged in scoring from seven to 21 points. Throw in 26 forced turnovers, runs of 29 and 13 points and a 48-16 rebound edge and the result is a blowout.
"We're like sisters," said point guard Emily Thesing, who had 21 points. "We hang out ... off the court so we know each other. We know how each other plays so we work well together. We all get along."
Megan Bates was the other Warrior in double digits with 16 points.
BHS 72, Sauk Rapids 37
The key: Brainerd scored 29 straight points in the first half and 13 straight in the second.
Conference: SR 0-2, Brd 2-0
Overall: SR 0-2, Brd 2-0
Next: Brainerd at Willmar7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"We're very close as a team," Bates said. "We pretty much know where each other are on the court. We play together pretty well."
Karlye Barron added nine points and 17 rebounds, Kayla Huether had eight points and Steph Neugebauer seven points and eight rebounds.
"This is one of those teams where we have some pretty good balance," Warriors coach Carl Hendrickson said. "We don't have to rely on one person all the time. Last year we relied on Kayla a lot. Now we're getting some inside play, some good perimeter play. If this team continues to pass the ball around and play team basketball they can be pretty successful.
"That's the big part of the game, playing together. We hope we can continue to build on that."
Brainerd built on a 14-9 first-half lead by scoring 29 unanswered points in a seven-minute span. The Warriors caused 19 turnovers in the half, converting many into layups.
Thesing had 17 points and Bates nine at the half as Brainerd led 45-13.
The Warriors expanded their lead to 62-14 following a 13-point second-half spurt.
"Obviously, (Sauk Rapids) lost a lot of confidence after 29 points," Hendrickson said. "Man, that's a run. To try and come back after that you have to waste a lot of energy to get back in the game. A little bit later in the game we had a 13-point run. Those are hard to overcome.
"Our girls did a nice job of taking advantage of those turnovers and rebounds, getting the ball out and passing the ball. When that happens, good things happen.
"It was a good game for us, to get another win and continue to build some confidence."
Thesing demonstrated her confidence by making nine of 15 shots, including 3-for-5 from the three-point line.
"I've kind of been given the role to lead the team, being the point guard, and not turn it over, so that's kind of what I've been doing," Thesing said. "I'm trying to see everybody and look for the open people."
Bates finished 7 of 14 from the field.
"Tuesday I had a rough start," Bates said of her three-point performance against Alexandria, "so I definitely wanted to come back and play much better. Tonight, we worked on moving the ball, and I'm supposed to shoot more so I was trying to do that. I thought it was an OK night."
Sauk Rapids 13 24 - 37
Brainerd 45 27 - 72
Amanda Crawford 4, Katie Christian 9, Crystal Benoit 1, Leah Schmidt 2, Jesse Warzecha 11, Nina Getchell 4, Beth St. Martin 6. FG 12-43, FT 13-21. Three-point baskets: 0-3. Turnovers: 26. Rebounds: 16.
Stephanie Neugebauer 7, Kayla Huether 8, Megan Bates 16, Emily Thesing 21, Karlye Barron 9, Jessie Marolt 4, Kylie Stanfield 5, Emily Olson 2. FG 31-66, FT 6-16. Three-point baskets: 4-14 (Thesing 3, Bates). Turnovers: 22. Rebounds: 48 (Barron 17, Neugebauer 8)
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 855-5861.
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