WILLMAR — Tyler Stegeman poured in 23 points and the Willmar Cardinals, after a 0-2 start, won their sixth straight on Friday evening, whipping New Prague 70-66.
Willmar led by five at half and by as many as 13 (58-45) in the second half. The Trojans mounted a rush, pulling to within three points of the lead, 67-64 and 69-66, in the last minute.
Though the Cards had problems handling the New Prague trap down the stretch, they weren’t about to fumble away the lead at the free throw line.
Adam Nibaur, Austin Grove, Kyler Johnson and Dylan Schueler each connected from the line to repel the visitors. For the game, the Cardinals sank 27 of 32 (84.3 percent).
Behind Stegeman, who sank three of the team’s five treys, came Austin Grove with 14 points while playing a strong defensive game, Johnson with 13, Nibaur with 12 and Schueler with 8 as the starting five accounted for all the points. Schueler started in place of guard Joel Carter, who is away.
The Trojans’ matchup zone somewhat overplayed Johnson which opened up the floor for Stegeman especially.
New Prague had a fine club who brought out the best in Willmar, which was less fluid in Thursday’s win over Fergus Falls after a six-day layoff.
Tanner Milinkovich, a 6-foot guard, led the Missota Conference power with 21 points followed by 6-foot-10 Paul Friendshuh with 20, all but four in the second half. The Trojans are temporarily without 6-foot-9 Michael Soderlund.
New Prague (4-4), which saw a two-game win streak snapped, plays at Alexandria Saturday.
Next for Willmar (6-2) at the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic is the Benson Braves at about 8 p.m. on Thursday. New London-Spicer opens the two-day event at 6 p.m. playing the New Century Academy Spartans, Hutchinson, who are 0-2 and list only an eight-game schedule.
Friday’s third-place and championship games will follow the first round of the West Central Tribune’s Wild-Card girls Tournament featuring Willmar vs. Albany and New London-Spicer vs. Minnehaha Academy the first day.
New Prague 66
New Prague (4-4) 25 41 —66
Willmar (6-2) 30 40 —70
NEW PRAGUE – 23-67 FG (6 3-pt); 14-18 FT; 34 rebounds; 22 fouls … Scoring: Tanner Milinkovich 21, Jake Ryan 9, Paul Friendshuh 20, Greg Vogel 20, Dan Feneis 2, Will Kreuser 3 … 3-point shots: Ryan 3, Kreuser, Milinkovich, Friendshuh … Rebound leaders: Vogel 7,Friendshuh 9 … Steal leaders: Milinkovich 3
WILLMAR – 19-44 FG (5 3-pt); 27-32 FT; 36 rebounds; 12 fouls … Scoring: Dylan Schueler 8, Adam Nibaur 12, Austin Grove 14, Tyler Stegeman 23, Kyler Johnson 13 … 3-point shots: Stegeman 3, Schueler, Nibaur … Rebound leaders: Grove 14, Schueler 6, Johnson 4, Nibaur 6, Stegeman 4 … Steal leaders: Johnson 3, Stegeman 3