Boys Basketball: Cards rip Benson in rematch of ‘11 title game
WILLMAR — Austin Rambow hooped 16 points and Kyler Johnson returned from a three-game layoff to score 14 points as the Willmar Cardinals turned back the Benson Braves 71-51 on Wednesday evening on the first day of the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic.
The Cardinals (3-4) will play neighboring New London-Spicer at approximately 7:45 p.m. for the championship.
The host team has won its own classic final the past four years, including Benson last December and NLS 61-60 two years ago.
The Wildcats won in 2007 on the way to capturing the 2008 Class AA championship.
This year again, the 3A Cardinals, should be favored in a field of AA teams. All four teams came in with sub-five-hundred records.
Benson was overmatched against Willmar’s height, bulk and depth.
Willmar jumped out 17-5 and never was in trouble. Coach Steve Grove went 10-deep the first half. Tall forward/post types Adam Nibaur and Austin Grove, the coach’s youngest of two sons on the team, got into the rotation early for once and together totaled 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Starters Joe Leuze and Jordan Geurtz each finished with 10 points.
Rambow hit 7 of 11 shots from the floor. The 6-5 senior forward scored his team’s first six points.
Johnson, who has been out since suffering concussion symptoms on Dec. 11 vs. Apollo, showed no rust. The lanky 6-foot-4 guard used a smooth stroke to deposit four 3-pointers in eight transactions.
The Braves (1-5), rebuilding after heavy graduation losses including top scorer Sam Peterson (now at Gustavus), had their best success shooting the bonus.
Daniel Lee sank 4 of 6 tries from outside the arc and Matt Ahrndt 3 of 12 to finish with 11 and 15 points, respectively.
Benson meets Albany at 6 p.m. today. The Huskies, formerly of the West Central North, now play in the newly formed Granite Ridge Conference.
The first-night crowd was modest in size, perhaps 500, compared to seasons when Willmar and NLS came in with dazzling early-season records.
Coach Grove said the Wildcats’ quick, athletic guards Aaron Ruter and Joey Dreier are a concern.
He was also impressed with the play of forward Brett Olson and 6-foot-5 center Tyson Gislason.
Willmar 71, Benson 51
Benson (1-5) 22 29 — 51
Willmar (3-4) 34 37 — 71
BENSON – 19-51 FG (8-18 3-pt); 5-8 FT; 20 rebounds; 11 fouls … Scoring: Daniel Lee 11, Zach Maurer 4, Aaron Ahrndt 3, Matt Ahrndt 15, Tyler Krienke 2, Christian Larson 3, Zach Jensen 5, Jacob Goff 8 … 3-point shots: Lee 3, A. Ahrndt, M. Ahrndt 3, Larson … Rebound leaders: M. Ahrndt 4, Good 3 … Assist leaders: A. Ahrndt 2, M. Ahrndt 2 … Steal leaders: Lee 2
WILLMAR – 26-60 FG (5-19 3-pt); 14-19 FT; 31 rebounds; 14 fouls … Scoring: Joe Leuze 10, Jordan Geurtz 10, Dylan Schueler 2, Cody Magnuson 3, Kyler Johnson 14, Austin Rambow 16, Adam Nibaur 4, Alex Grove 7, Austin Grove 5 … 3-point shots: Magnuson, Johnson 4 … Rebound leaders: Geurtz 4, Schueler 3, Johnson 4, A. Rambow 4, Nibaur 54, Al. Grove 5, Au. Grove 4 … Assist leaders: Magnuson 4, Al. Grove 6 … Steal leaders: Leuze 3, Magnuson 3, Rambowe 3