Any drama about the outcome was short-lived. Brainerd's girls opened with an 11-0 run and never allowed Lookout Valley to threaten in claiming a 42-30 opening-round win in the annual Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament Thursday.
"That's really the first time this year we've jumped out on somebody like that," Brainerd first-year coach Tyrus Ward said. "We normally have to play from behind, but it was good to see us build a good lead and give ourselves some room for error."
On a team with no seniors, sophomore Jamee Ward and junior Jumeka Brown combined for 13 of Brainerd's 15 first-quarter points and Ward scored 16 of her game-high 20 by halftime.
The Lady Panthers (7-3) built a 20-point lead in the second half before Lookout Valley finished with a flurry. Ashlie Beth Crownover hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, when Elexis Foster added six points to help close the gap.
"That's something we struggle with, having to play from behind," Lookout Valley coach Kristen Clounch said. "Having four freshmen, four sophomores and a junior, it's just tough when you fall so far behind.
"I thought we played pretty good after that first quarter, but we dug ourselves too big a hole to get out of."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.