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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Willmar 6-foot-5 senior forward Austin Rambow battles inside against Brainerd’s 6-foot-4 senior center Jagar Hansen in the first half Tuesday in Willmar.

Boys basketball: Cardinals freeze up

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WILLMAR — Just when the Willmar’s was cruising down victory highway with a 12-point lead, all four tires went flat and the Brainerd bus zipped by to grab an unlikely 70-64 Central Lakes Conference win.

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The Warriors (4-0, 7-0) outscored the Cardinals (2-3, 5-5) 20-2 over the game’s last 10 minutes.

The Cardinals perhaps consumed their ammunition in the action-packed first half which ended 38-all.

Willmar’s managed not one field goal after taking a 62-50 lead with just under 10 minutes left.

 The only two points came on a pair of free throws by Joe Leuze with just under two minutes left. Brainerd already led by that time and would stretch the 67-64 lead to six at the free throw line as time expired.

Senior guard Jack Sauer led the Warriors in the first half sinking five rainbow 3-pointers from around the popcorn stand plus a deuce for 17 points. He’d finish with a game-high 22, including a half-dozen bonus shots most from a yard or more behind the arc.

Jake Blong, a 6-foot-5 senior center, played big in the second half when he scored 10 of his 12 points, plus blocking several Willmar attempts. Forward Marcus Comstock 7 of 9 free throws in the second half on the way to 17 points.

The Cardinals played a terrific first half and first eight minutes of the second half. That’s when coach Scott Stanfield called a time out at 9:35 with his team 10 behind and switched defenses.

“They moved their point guard to the top of the key and that took away our ability to reverse the ball,” said coach Steve Grove. “We had open shots on the side. We had many good looks. It was frustrating.”

Austin Rambow and Kyler Johnson each finished with 20 points to lead Willmar. Johnson hit 5 of 12 three-point attempts. Joe Leuze help charge Willmar’s high-energy opening half and would finish with 9 points, 3 assists and 4 steals.

Overall Willmar was just 14 of 41 inside the arc (34 percent) and 50 percent at the free-throw line (9 of 18).0

Willmar has three days to get ready for Sartell, also a home game.

Brainerd 70, Willmar 64

Brainerd (4-0, 7-0)    38   32— 70

Willmar (2-3 5-5)    38  26— 64

BRAINERD – 23-55 FG (11-27 3-pt); 13-22 FT; 31 rebounds; 16 fouls … Scoring: Tony Sauer 2, Jack Sauer 22, Jake Blong 12, Marcus Comstock 17, Chris Bowman 2, Ian Haug 6, Jagar Hanson 7, Taylor Huber 2 … 3-point shots: J. Sauer 6, Blong 2, Haug 2, Hanson 1

WILLMAR – 23-67 FG (9-26 3-pt); 9-18 FT; 21 rebounds; 20 fouls … Scoring: Joe Leuze 9, Jordan Geurtz 4, Sean Zuidema 5, Cody Magnuson 6, Kyler Johnson 20, Austin Rambow 20… 3-point shots: Johnson 5, Lueze, Magnuson 2, Rambow  … Rebound leaders: Rambow 8, Alex Grove 3, Johnson 3… Assist leaders: Leuze 3, Sean Zuidema 3 … Steal leaders: Leuze 4, Jordan Geurtz 2, Rambow 2, Grove 2 … Blocks: Johnson 3

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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