Brainerd bounced back from last week’s three-point overtime loss to Howard on Tuesday evening, but the Panthers might have also taken a step back.
You certainly couldn’t tell from the final score as Brainerd rolled to a 73-51 win over the Lions at Susan Ingram Thurman Gymnasium, but coach Robert High could.
“With as well as we played Friday night, we come back and make the kinds of mistakes tonight,” High said. “You can’t make those, you’ve got to play at that upper level every night, regardless of who you’re playing.”
The mistakes High’s referring to aren’t the kind that can be found in a box score — the Panthers (4-3, 2-1 District 6-AA) dominated nearly every statistical category in the decisive victory — they had more to do with executing the game plan.
“We told them at halftime, play defense straight up, man-to-man,” High said. “We’ve got a lead, we don’t need you to go for a steal every time. We came right out onto the floor and went for three straight steals. That kind of stuff.”
Those kind of miscues could come back to hurt them down the road, but they certainly didn’t bother Brainerd on Tuesday. The talent margin was just too wide.
Red Bank (2-6, 0-2) was roughed up in the post by Panthers junior Orlando Moore, who finished with a double-double — 29 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m glad he’s on my team,” High said of the forward’s impressive performance on the low block.
The 6-7, 220-pounder poured in 18 first-half points, including 10 in the opening period as Brainerd built a 23-6 lead after one quarter. Junior forward Dimitri Glenn also made his presence felt in the post for the Panthers, adding 12.
The Lions scored six unanswered to close the gap in the second, pulling to within 12 on a fadeaway jumper by senior Fred Matthews with 4:24 left. Brainerd pulled away in the final minutes of the first half, though, and held a 44-26 lead at the half.
Red Bank received a second-half boost from sophomore Malik Davis, who finished with a team-high 21 points, but the Lions outcome was never in doubt in the final two quarters.
Senior guard Jay Besley finished with 12 points and seven assists for Brainerd, sophomore Trey Davenport chipped in 10 and freshman Isiah Shropshire forced four steals.
Jefferson finished with 18 for Red Bank.
The Lions return to the action on Thursday at Boyd-Buchanan while the Panthers will be off until Saturday's trip to Knoxville to take on Austin-East.