It was too little too late for the Brainerd Warrior boys' basketball team.
Trailing by 13 points in the second half Brainerd mounted a spirited comeback before falling 64-60 to the previously winless Sartell Sabres in Central Lakes Conference play Thursday.
With 16.8 seconds left, Brainerd's Landon Stanfield, who led all scorers with 25 points, drained a jump shot to pull the Warriors within 62-60.
Two free throws by Sartell's Cody Hauser with 15.3 seconds remaining accounted for the final score.
Brainerd had two chances in the last nine seconds. Jared Mueller missed a jumper and Mike Mahlum had the ball stripped near the hoop as time expired.
Sartell 64, Warriors 60
The key: Sartell shot 59 percent from the field. Its 13-point lead in the second half proved too much for BHS to overcome.
Conference: Sar 1-2, Brd 1-2
Overall: Sar 1-3, Brd 1-2
Next: Brainerd at Willmar 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Sabres went on 6- and 7-point runs in the first half, at the end of which they led 35-30. Brainerd trailed 48-35 with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the second before rallying. The Warriors never led.
"We dug ourselves a hole too early," Warriors coach Matt Urbanek said, "and we had an uphill battle climbing out of it.
"We didn't come out with much intensity. We were not as ready to play as we were in our first two games. We played fairly well the last few minutes but by that time it was too much to overcome."
The Warriors couldn't overcome Sartell's lethal shooting. The Sabres slashed through Brainerd's defense for 12 layups, sparking a 59-percent shooting night (22 of 37) from the field.
When Sartell built its cushion it slowed the pace and made the Warriors gamble on defense.
"That opened up the basket when we had to extend our defense and take some chances," Urbanek said. "They got some easy baskets. They forced us to foul, they made some free throws and we got some guys in foul trouble."
Brainerd struggled to defend the Sabres' 6-foot-3 Alex Tideman, who scored a team-high 20 points, and point guard Justin Brandt, who added 18.
"We have not scored 50 points this year until (Thursday)," Sartell coach Dave Angell said. "It was a big improvement. We played Willmar last Friday and it was a 5-point ballgame at the half. They hit a bunch of threes at the end."
In the first half the Warriors struggled to score, making only 4 of 12 free throws and 7 of 16 field goals.
Brainerd also had trouble protecting the ball, turning it over 14 times in the first half. The Warriors also encountered foul trouble. C.J. Peeters and John Haberman each picked up three fouls in the first half and both eventually fouled out.
Sartell took better care of the ball in the first, with just nine turnovers, and shot much better during that time. The Sabres were 10 of 20 from the floor and 6 of 9 at the foul line.
"We didn't do very much right at all in the first half," Urbanek said. "We shot the ball poorly, we shot free throws poorly, we defended poorly, we passed poorly. We did not take good care of the ball. Sartell deserves credit for how they played."
Sartell 27 37 - 64
Brainerd 20 40 - 60
Dan Wagner 3, Matthew Wistrom 10, Alex Tideman 20, Tyler Rosin 1, Justin Brandt 18, Evan Ziegler 2, Cody Hauser 5, Nick Steve 5. FG 22-37 (59 percent), FT 19-29 (66 percent). Three-point baskets: 1-7 (Tideman). Turnovers: 16.
Riley Cullinane 1, Landon Stanfield 25, C.J. Peeters 9, Brett Cloutier 8, Danny Markow 5, Mike Mahlum 9, Chris Comstock 3. FG 22-48 (46 percent), FT 12-22 (55 percent). Three-point baskets: 4-15 (Stanfield 3, Peeters). Turnovers: 22.
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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