By Jeremy Millsop Sports Writer:
"Even Scott Stanfield was impressed.
The Brainerd Warriors head coach watched as his team played one of the more impressive halves of basketball Thursday night.
Brainerd parlayed that first-half dominance into a 79-47 Central Lakes Conference blowout of the St. Cloud Tech Tigers at Brainerd High School.
The Warriors shot 55 percent from the field and held Tech to 28-percent shooting in the first half. Brainerd committed only three turnovers, while forcing the Tigers into 10 first-half turnovers.
Brainerd turned those Tech errors into 13 points to build a 44-19 halftime edge.
The Warriors did it with senior forward Marcus Comstock sitting on the bench with foul trouble and senior guard Jack Sauer going scoreless in the half.
“I’ve been around this program for a number of years now and yes, I can say, that was the best half of basketball I’ve seen from our guys,” Stanfield said. “We came out with energy and we got a lot of great minutes from everyone.
“I think the reason for that is our practices are so intense. I think we practice harder than some of the games we’ve played and that helps guys like Tate Geraets, who came in and, I thought, played great. It helps Chris Bowman and Taylor Huber and Jagar Hanson come in off the bench. We don’t waste minutes when those guys are out there. We remain effective and that’s what we preach and the kids have bought into that.”
Jacob Blong displayed his scoring repertoire to post 19 first-half points. The 6-foot-5 senior center scored the game’s first points on a lob pass, hit three 3-pointers and missed only three field goal attempts.
Blong and senior guard Ian Haug scored Brainerd’s first 21 points, helping the Warriors to a 21-7 lead. The Warriors used runs of 7-1 and 12-1 to build their halftime edge.
Hanson came off the bench to score seven points and Tony Sauer added five first-half points.
“We’ve all been playing together for so many years,” said Hanson. “We know where we need to be on the court. We know where everyone is going to be at. We know each other’s role and if someone is hot we recognize it.
“That’s the great thing about this team, we never know who is going to have the hot hand. Plus, we have such a deep bench. It was great to get those juniors in tonight, too.”
In the second half, Comstock scored all 11 of his points and Blong tallied nine more to finish with a game-high 28. Haug finished with 11 and Tony Sauer eight.
Eleven different players scored for the 5-0 Warriors, who committed just one turnover in the second half despite clearing their bench.
“The past few games, we’ve really had guys who have had tremendous games,” said Hanson. “Now, to have a balanced attack and have a few more guys get into the scoring, it really takes the pressure off everyone.”
Brainerd’s defense held Tech to 32-percent shooting and frustrated leading scorer Andy Foley, limiting him to just 11 points.
“These section wins are huge and starting 5-0 is great,” Hanson said. “Every win in the section is huge. We had a big crowd. This was a big anticipated game for the section and conference.
“Like coach Stan said before the game, this was our biggest game of the season so far.”
St. Cloud Tech 19 28 — 47
Brainerd 44 35 — 79
ST. CLOUD TECH
Ethyn Fruth 3, Austin Schlangen 3, Andy Foley 11, Phil Amundson 2, Ryan Kunkel 3, Nash Otte 3, Bryant Bohlig 9, JaJuan Reed 2, Jake Martig 5, Jay Kedrowski 3, Isaac Matchinsky 3. FG 16-50 (32 percent), FT 4-8 (50 percent). 3-point 8-18 (44 percent).
Grant Reuer 1, Tony Sauer 8, Jack Sauer 4, Connor Bowman 32, Tate Geraets 2, Jacob Blong 28, Marcus Comstock 11, Ian Haug 11, Chris Bowman 4, Jagar Hanson 7. Logan McElfresh 2. FG 28-52 (54 percent), FT 14-21 (67 percent). 3-point 9-24 (38 percent)."