The Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team provided an exemplary display of this sports clich in its 60-47 win over Section 8-4A rival Bemidji Saturday night at Brainerd High School.
Using a rotation that included 12 players, 10 of whom scored at least two points, Brainerd wore away at the Lumberjacks with timely shooting and forced turnovers before toppling Bemidji in the second half with a lead that would reach 20 points.
"We played a lot of guys tonight, and had a lot of guys contribute ... we had 11 guys who played good defense and a lot of people who made contributions," Warriors coach Matt Urbanek said. "The game is more fun when more guys get involved.
Ben Gervais led BHS with 14 points.
It took a while, though, for the fun to actually start for the Warriors as each team struggled to find its offensive rhythm for a majority of the first half. Coming out against an aggressive Lumberjack three-quarter court zone defense, the Warriors at first found scoring opportunities difficult to create in their half-court sets.
As the half wore on, though, Brainerd was able to capitalize on several Bemidji turnovers, turning steals from Jed Magstadt and Ben Gervais into fast-break layups that gave the Warriors a 29-18 lead at halftime.
Riding the momentum and their continual rotation of 11 players, the Warriors came out of halftime clicking on all offensive cylinders and began to find holes in the Bemidji zone.
Gervais, who came off the bench to lead the Warriors in scoring with 14 points, was essential in a run that would push Brainerd's lead to 17 points in first several minutes of the second half.
"Ben Gervais came in in the second half and made three threes right away and kind of gave us a boost," Urbanek said. "We went with a small lineup for a large period of time and ended up extending our lead with that small lineup. We were able to run a little bit, shoot a little bit and kind of play that style."
Warriors 60, Bemidji 47
The key: Ben Gervais hit three 3-pointers to start the second half for Brainerd
Conference: Brd 2-1.
Overall: Brd 3-1, Bemidji 1-6
Next: St. Cloud Apollo at Brainerd 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Playing the small-ball rotation, the Warriors controlled the tempo in the second half and never led by less than 13 points after Gervais' first three.
As the game progressed, Brainerd's depth wore down Bemidji, which was never able to make a serious run at the Warriors until the last several minutes when Bemidji reserves chopped the deficit to 13, making the final score closer than the Warriors' second-half performance would suggest.
"We are happy with the win, but we still have a lot to work on," Urbanek said. "We need to take better care of the basketball and we need to rebound better.
"But when we can play a lot of guys it's really a boost to everybody's morale and a boost to our team chemistry, especially not only when you play guys but when they come in and contribute ... if we can keep doing that I think it will make us a better and better team."
The Warriors received 11 points from sophomore Kyle Crocker and eight points from Magstadt.
Bemidji 18 29 - 47
Brainerd 29 31 - 60
Jon Wiese 5, Jed Magstadt 8, Ben Gervais 14, Kyle Crocker 11, Mike Gervenak 3, Mike Valesano 4, Kyle Schaible 5, T.J. Struss 2, Sam Feyder 4, Aaron Pavek 2. Team totals: FG 22-51 (percent), FT 9-11 (percent), 3-point baskets: 7 (Gervais 4, Wiese 1, Crocker 1, Gervenak 1).
Ray Walker 2, Ryan Telander 11, Tanner Baker 14, Doug Bender 10, Czar Woods 2, Joe Kingery 2, Zach Heinle 2, Simon Anderson 4. Team totals: FG 18-37 (percent), FT 10-15 (percent), 3-point baskets: 1 (Telander 1). Overall: 1-6.
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