CLINTON — Falling behind 11-4 in the first quarter, the River Queens managed to hold off Central DeWitt's attack in the second, trailing 18-12 at halftime. Then, Amanda Brainerd awoke, and in the words of Clinton coach Mike Halac, "took over the game."
"Brainerd did a great job for them," he added, following the 47-26 loss in the opening round of the River Queen Classic. "We were trying to take away the middle on her and her teammates just did a nice job creating space."
Brainerd finished with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting. She was the only Saber in double figures, nearly matching Clinton in scoring.
Erin Wenzel led the Queens with 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Clinton contained Brainerd to only 5 first-half points. Out of the break, it seemed every DeWitt possession featured an open look from its sophomore star.
"Second half was much better than the first," DeWitt coach Mark Kurtz said. "In the first we got in much of a hurry. ... We hurt ourselves by just rushing things.
"I thought we did a better job of finding (Brainerd) in the second half. It's as much Amanda's teammates as it was Amanda."
Brainerd immediately caught fire finishing a layup through contact and converting the freebie to start the third. Time and again she took Clinton back door to find easy buckets in the lane, often drawing the Queens into fouls. Kurtz said Brainerd was unusually cold from the stripe in the first half; in the second, though, she converted 7-of-10, including back-to-back possessions where she was 4-for-4.
"I was fed pretty well by my teammates and I was just getting good looks," Brainerd said. "I can score from wherever, but it's mostly about me getting the open look and getting my teammates to see me and hitting what's open."