Brainerd Gets Defensive To Drop Polk County

Season Sweep Keeps Panthers In Thick Of 4-2A Race

  • Tuesday, January 24, 2023
  • James Beach

Brainerd guard Boo Carter sat frustrated and helpless back in December awaiting eligibility after transferring in from Chattanooga Christian as Polk County's scoring machine Tucker Patterson put on a show, riddling the Panthers to the tune of 31 points in a game the Panthers escaped with a one-point victory.

"The kid (Patterson) is easily the best scorer in our district, and you could just see how totally frustrated Boo Carter was on the bench that night," said Brainerd coach Levar Brown.

"We knew we had to have an answer for him tonight"

And that answer was Carter as the Panthers concluded a season sweep of the talented Wildcats with a decisive 70-56 District 4-2A win Tuesday night to remain in the thick of things heading into the homestretch. Carter's quickness was more than enough to match Patterson's every move as the Brainerd guard shadowed the Polk County star to every corner of Brainerd's Jackson-High Court.

Carter had eight steals on the night and Patterson managed to score just 10 of his 16 points with Carter on the court as the Panther prowler forced 17 misses from the floor during that time.

"Coach Brown told me before the game he needed just 10 points to get his 1000th career point and I was determined to stay in the game and go as hard as I could for as long as I could. He wasn't going to beat us tonight if I could help it. It wasn't fun watching him up there when they beat us."

Patterson finally managed to get his benchmark bucket early in the final period, but that seemed to only invigorate the Panthers as they went on a 13-5 run immediately afterwards to push it out to a 62-49 lead that was insurmountable. 

"I looked at our halftime sheet and Donovon (Thomas) only had two points and (Quintas) Broadnax no points, and we made an adjustment to get it inside the second half," Brown said. "I thought we settled for a lot of 3s in the first half, but when Donovon shows up and plays to his capability and with our two guards, we're pretty tough to defend."

Everyone knows Polk County's bread-and-butter is a flurry of 3s with several good marksmen in the lineup, but between seven first quarter turnovers by the Wildcats and an 11-point outburst by Dennis Lewis, Jr. the Panthers seized early control and led 18-12 after the first. Brainerd went cold from behind the arc in the second period, though, and Polk County took its first lead on a  Patterson drive to the bucket. Brainerd answered with its only two treys of the period by Lewis, Jr. and Kendrick Jones before the Wildcats scored the final five points of the half to make it a 28-27 Brainerd lead at the break. 

The Panthers then came out of the dressing room and quickly ran off a 10-0 lead to start the third and maintained the 11-point advantage to its end, up 47-36. Patterson's milestone bucket pulled Polk to within 51-44 but Thomas answered with a crowd pleasing ally oop jam off an assist from Lewis, Jr. to start another 10-2 run that Lewis, Jr. finished with an exclamation point 3-pointer. 

"Denis is our heart and soul, and with Boo coming on board to run more of the point, it has freed up to get more shots," noted Brown.

Lewis, Jr. led the Panthers with 20 points and Carter added 14. Thomas wound up with 10 in the final half to tally a dozen for the game and was the inside force the Panthers needed him to be in that second half. 

Patterson finished with his 16 and Luke Hannah had 14 with four 3s. Kolton Casson added 12 and Dakota Sanford 10. 

The win keeps Brainerd on pace to compete for that top seed and regular season title as it remains a game behind Tyner, which it will play in the season finale. The Panthers shot 28 of 63 from the floor including 17 of 34 in the second half when they only attempted 10 of their 27 3s. Polk County, which now has five district losses – four of them coming by 7, 6, 3, and 1 point margins –  hit on just 23 of 64 shots, but made nine of 24 3s to stay in the game.

Polk County girls 54, Brainerd 20: The two squads battled it out for three quarters before the Lady Wildkittens erupted in the final period by outscoring the Lady Panthers 24-3 as Abbi Thompson had 11 in the period and Aubrey Long added eight. Polk County did it with a pressing full court defense which rattled Brainerd late and led a bevy of layups in the final period.

Long led the winners with 16 and Thompson added 13 for the game. Lamiya Mason was Brainerd's top scorer with nine.


POLK COUNTY 12   8 10 24 -- 54

BRAIERD   8   5   4   3 -- 20

POLK COUNTY (54) -- Stone 4, Combs 2, Burgess 4, Lewis 4, England 5, Aubrey Long 16, Brewer 2, Lavas, Abbi Thompson 13, Farr 2, Keith 2, Pike, Evans.

BRAINERD (20) -- Bullard 3, Keith, Walker, Lamiya Mason 9, Foster, Watkins, Belcher 4, A.Jones 4, DeLeCruz, C.Jones.

3-point goals: Polk County 4 (Stone, England, Long, Thompson); Brainerd 0 .


POLK COUNTY 12 15   9 20 -- 56

BRAINERD 18 10 19 24 -- 70

POLK COUNTY (56) -- Tucker Patterson 16, Shaw 4, Dakota Sanford 10, Luke Hannah 14, Kolton Casson 12, Maxwell, Branham.

BRAINERD (70) -- Donovon Thomas 12, Dennis Lewis, Jr. 20, Hood 7, Broadnax 5, Boo Carter 14, Shaw 2, Baylor 6, Jones 3, Brown, Byrd, J.Lewis 2.


3-point goals: Polk County 9 (Hannah 4, Casson 2, Sanford 2, Patterson); Brainerd 7 (Lewis, jr. 4, Hood, Carter, Jones).


(Contact James Beach at

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