The Brainerd Warriors girls' basketball team had a chance for an upset.
But Class 4A's eighth-ranked Bemidji Lumberjacks axed those hopes, taking the non-conference game 47-46 Tuesday.
With the Warriors down 47-43 with a little more than 10 seconds remaining, things looked bleak.
Taking the in-bounds pass, Brainerd point guard Joan Ebnet cruised down the court. She sailed a pass across to Brooke Rollins who was stationed at the three-point arc. Rollins connected on the three-pointer with less than five seconds remaining to give the Warriors a chance.
After a timeout, Brainerd went into a steal mode, but the in-bounds by Bemidji was successful and the Warriors couldn't foul quick enough as time expired.
"We wanted to foul right away in the corner there and we didn't get the foul," said Brainerd coach Carl Hendrickson. "We could have had a steal there and we didn't get that either.
"It was just a good play by them and we didn't foul like we should have right away."
Despite playing poorly on offense, Brainerd resembled a swarm of bees with its resilient defense.
Bemidji went on runs of seven points in the second quarter, nine in the third and five in the fourth, but Brainerd's attack never faltered.
Brainerd found itself down by 11 points early in the fourth quarter. Just when it looked like the Lumberjacks were ready to pull away, Brainerd stormed back.
Megan Arns scored four straight points and Ebnet nailed a clutch three to bring Brainerd to within four.
In the fourth, the Warriors scratched their way to a 41-40 lead thanks to a basket by Megan Steiger and two free throws by Rollins. But it was Bemidji's turn to battle back, which it did thanks to Megan Spaulding who scored six of her game-high 13 points in the fourth quarter. She scored Bemidji's final points to give the Lumberjacks the win.
"We were really nervous coming into the game, with Bemidji ranked in the state," said Steiger. "We really wanted to win and so we were really nervous. It was like we were playing hot potato with the ball."
Even though the score was close, Brainerd's offense looked out of sync. Hendrickson believes that will change when the games start to count.
"Some of our girls are learning a new system," said Hendrickson. "We have three offenses and we really don't have any of them polished yet.
"We kind of know where we're going and we got some plays off some of them, but tonight Bemidji's aggressive defense took us out of our offense."
Unlike Brainerd's season-opening win over Willmar, Brainerd was outrebounded Tuesday 23-22. Most of Bemidji's rebounds came in the first half.
"They really crashed us on the boards," said Steiger. "They really outrebounded us in that first half. Coach (Hendrickson) told us we needed to crash the boards more.
"He also said we needed to work harder on defense because that's what was going to win us the game."
Brainerd was playing good defense and had momentum early in the fourth quarter, but center Amy Kittelson picked up her fifth foul. With her departure, went some of the momentum.
Notes: Bemidji guard Kristy Wallner is one of the top recruits in Minnesota but Arns held her to just nine points.
"Monday in practice, we basically said Wallner was coming to town," said Hendrickson. "She's been play ing since eighth grade. We told (Arns), 'You're not going to steal it from her. All you can try and do is control her. If anything, make her shoot outside.
"For the most part Megan did a good job of doing that. Anytime you can hold her to single digits, somebody is doing the job. We're also playing pretty good team defense."
Arns led the Warriors with 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Bemidji 11 15 11 10 -- 47
Brainerd 11 11 11 13 -- 46
Lindsey Gilseth 7, Katie Moe 4, Kristy Wallner 9, Megan Spaulding 13, Megan Wallner 2, Lindsey Gregg 6, Angela Tobey 4, Jessica Parker 2. Team totals: FG 17-45 (38 percent), FT 10-17 (59 percent).
Joan Ebnet 7, Brooke Rollins 8, Megan Steiger 8, Megan Arns 11, Amy Kittelson 6, Katie Alberg 2, Bithiah McDermott 2, Cassie Pieri 2. Team totals: FG 18-42 (43 percent), FT 8-13 (62 percent). Overall -- 1-1. Next game: Brainerd vs. Rocori 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
3-point baskets -- Brd 2 (Ebnet, Rollins; Bem 3 (Moe, Gilseth, K. Wallner). Rebounds -- Brd 22 (Arns 8, Rollins 5), Bem 23. Turnovers -- Brd 17, Bem 23. Total fouls -- Brd 19, Bem 20. Fouled out -- Brd-Kittelson. Assists -- Brd 14 (Arns 4, Ebnet 3). Steals -- Brd 6 (Ebnet 3). Blocks -- Brd 1 (Kittelson).
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