When a basketball team has one player lighting up the scoreboard it has a good chance to win but when two players find their scoring touch it's a sure win.
The Brainerd Warriors boys' team had that luxury Saturday in a 67-55 Central Lakes Conference win against the Willmar Cardinals.
Justin Heitkamp and Matt Means traded hot halves which saw them rack up a combined 35 points for the win.
Down 7-2 early in the first quarter Heitkamp found his touch and took control of the game. Heitkamp knocked down three consecutive three-pointers to give the Warriors an 11-7 lead.
After two Willmar free throws Heitkamp hit his fourth consecutive three.
Heitkamp wasn't done, dropping in five more points in the second quarter to give Brainerd a 33-27 halftime lead.
"I just felt like I could make every shot and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball," said Heitkamp who finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and a block. "Willmar started to play me farther out and that gave my teammates opportunities.
"My teammates were able to get open looks, they also knocked down their shots and we ended up with a win."
The Cardinals kept it close thanks to the play of Travis Jones who finished with 11 first-half points, including a spectacular dunk.
Heitkamp's ability to find his touch opened up the post play for center Adam Hardy who finished with six points in the first half.
"That gave us a 12- or 13-point lead right away and that was huge," Warriors coach Brad Amundson said of Heitkamp's early points. "Give Justin credit and give the rest of the team credit for recognizing that he was hot and then giving him the ball.
"We were setting some good solid screens to free him up. It's not just the guy putting the ball in the basket. I thought everyone was doing their job out there."
Heitkamp's outside threat opened up opportunities in the second half for Means who found his touch in the third quarter.
With Brainerd only up by three early in the third quarter Means, a reserve post player, made his statement, nailing a three-pointer for a six-point lead. He then rattled off four unanswered points to give Brained a 47-39 lead late in the quarter.
Means finished with 12 points in the third quarter to help the Warriors maintain their six-point lead.
"It feels really good to have a team that wants to play together and get you the ball when you're hot," said Means, who finished with 14 points. "It feels really good to beat these guys. All the football players (who play basketball) came into this game wanting to win even more."
Despite foul trouble, Jones kept the Cardinals close with 10 second-half points. But Brainerd opened the fourth quarter with eight quick points to extend its lead to 56-43.
Down by 13 points Willmar was forced to foul and Brainerd took advantage, connecting on 10 of 17 free throw attempts to end the game.
Willmar 9 18 16 12 -- 55
Brainerd 21 12 16 18 -- 67
Josh Benson 5, Travis Jones 21, Adam Dittberner 7, Erik Maursetter 6, Carey Jeremiason 9, Darren Solbrack 7. FG 20-51 (39). FT 11-14 (79). Conference -- 0-1. Overall -- 1-1.
Dan Karlgaard 1, Joe Morgan 5, Mike Zauhar 11, Justin Heitkamp 21, Adam Hardy 9, Derrick LaPointe 5, Matt Means 14. FG 20-48 (42). FT 19-30 (63). Conference -- 1-0. Overall 2-0. Next Game -- Brainerd at Rocori 7:30 p.m. Friday.
3-pointers -- B 8-19 (Heitkamp 6, Means 1, Zauhar 1), W 4-12 (Jeremiason 2, Dittberner 1, Benson 1). Rebounds -- B 29 (Hardy 9, Heitkamp 7), W 32). Total Fouls -- B 15, W 24. Fouled Out -- W Jones, Dittberner. Assists -- B 16 (Zauhar 4, Morgan 4, Karlgaard 3), W 10. Turnovers -- B 15, W 27. Steals -- B 3 (LaPointe 2) W 3. Blocks -- B 1 (Heitkamp) W 4.
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