Stand, Otters dizzy Warriors 78-42Published 10:43am Friday, February 22, 2013
The Fergus Falls girls basketball team got off to a slow start against Brainerd in the Warriors’ gym Thursday night, perhaps suffering a small lag after playing a tough game in Staples on Tuesday night. Or it could have been the really quiet gym, where the Otter fans out-numbered the Brainerd fans, but they were able to turn up their intensity on the way to a 78-42 victory.
The Otters could only muster 17 points in the first 12 minutes. Brainerd came out in a packed in 2-3 zone, trying to hold down any inside damage while jumping out on the 3-point shooters, simply hoping the Otters would have a tough shooting night. Their game plan worked for the first 12 minutes, as the Otters missed a number of their early shots and Brainerd made a banked in 3-pointer at the 5:50 mark in the first half to pull to a 17-17 tie.
Brainerd might have done the Otters a favor by calling a time out and coach Strand merely told the players to trust their instincts, keep the ball moving and go for their shots. And go they did as they sprinted to a 44-23 halftime lead in those last five and a half minutes.
Bailey Strand led the charge for the Otters, for a five minute period creating one of the most productive stat lines you could have. And if you’re reading this story, you must be a basketball junkie, and we know you junkies love the stat lines.
Here’s how Strand led the Otters out of their malaise: a three point basket, then a two point basket, then an assist on another basket, then blocked a shot, then assisted on another basket, then hit another three, drove to the basket to get fouled and made two free throws, then another drive to get the two “and one” as she was fouled and made the free throw.
By then it was 42-18 and the Warriors appeared dazed as the Otters turned up their defense in that same time period and shut down any scoring chances for Brainerd. The Otters continued to pull away in the second half, this time pounding the ball down low where Hanna Swenson got nine of her 13 game points, Anna Monke hit for another five of her game total of 13, and Sam Velde came off the bench to put in four points, one on a great back door pass from Kaitlin Capouch for a lay-up. Everyone played for the Otters in the end as they finished the game with a 36 point victory spread.
You say you want some more interesting stat lines? Sure you do. Strand finished with 26 points but at the same time had eight assists, the equivalent of accounting for over 40 points. Brianna Rasmusson had her second unique double-double of the year with 11 points and 11 assists, now standing a whopping 44 assists ahead of the previous single season record with more games to go. And Hanna Swenson had another Hanna Swenson game, you know what that means, another double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Otters in that category. Finally, Anna Monke had a great night also with 13 points, including hitting a 3-pointer, and blocking four shots, two spectacular ones on Brainerd breakaways.
The Otters out-rebounded Brainerd 39 to 23 and caused 20 Warrior turnovers while only having 12 themselves. Fergus Falls shot 46 percent from the floor compared to the Warriors 25 percent and Fergus Falls made 80 percent of their free throws. Is that enough stats for you junkies now?
The win over Brainerd gives the Otters their second undefeated Central Lakes Conference season in a row and now makes it a three-year run as the conference champions. They also stand 25-0 on the season and finish the regular campaign at Moorhead on Saturday night, before heading into section play next Tuesday, where the Otters will have a home game.
“ The atmosphere in the gym was a little quiet at the outset and our girls maybe felt a little of that lack of enthusiasm,” noted Otter head coach Brad Strand. “But they started to trust their basketball instincts and started doing what’s natural to them in a game and things got much better quickly. I think all of our girls really stepped it up, as we had four players in double figures, had a high number of assisted baskets, and our players off the bench had good games as Traiser had 8 points and Sam Velde and Kaitlin Capouch had some productive offensive and defensive minutes for us.”
The Otter JV team ran their season record to 17-7 with a 45-32 victory. Amber Boese hit five three pointers to tally 15 points and lead the Otters, while Rachel Johnson led the Otters with 12 rebounds.
The Otters will finish out their regular season Saturday as they travel to take on the Moorhead Spuds in a 7:30 p.m. showdown.