BRAINERD — Playing without the services of Tori Ratz, Brynn Sternberg and Aleah Keller on the night, the Fergus Falls girls’ basketball team dropped a thrilling game at Brainerd, 63-62. After Brainerd scored an early bucket, the Otters responded with an 8-0 run and led 13-4 a few minutes into the contest. The host squad then got hot from downtown and roared back into the contest, knocking down a trio of threes. It remained a tight game for most of the first half, but it was the Warriors who led for the majority. They took a 41-36 lead into the halftime break, having hit seven threes in the first half compared to Fergus Falls’ four. Ellie Colbeck had a huge first half, pouring in 26 points.

In the second half, the Otters scored the first four points to pull within one point. Brainerd answered and built their largest lead to eight points, 52-44, with 11:12 left in regulation. After a timeout, Colbeck hit back-to-back threes, but Fergus Falls continued to trail until just under three minutes left in the contest. A two-point bucket knotted the score at 61 and with just one minute left, a free throw for the Otters gave them a one point advantage. The teams traded possessions and Fergus Falls looked to inbound the basketball with under 15 seconds left. Brainerd was able to force a steal and snagged a late layup, coming away with the one point victory.

"It was a really hard-fought battle, I'm super proud of the effort," said Otters head coach Josh Steer. "Defensively in the second half we buckled down and only gave up 22 second half points but came up a little short, it was a great learning experience for us."

Both sides took care of the basketball and shot well throughout the evening. Colbeck finished with a game high 42 points, three short of the school record set by Bailey Strand. Karley Braeger chipped in with nine points and Hannah Polejewski had five points and six rebounds. Meghan Smith led the host Warriors with 20 points in the game. The Otters will be back in action next week at the Fergus Falls Holiday Tournament. They are scheduled to face Crookston at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 28.

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