Filipek, Cards dunk SC Apollo
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals seem to have found their groove again.
The Cardinals crushed St. Cloud Apollo 70-46 on Thursday night to improve to 6-2 in the Central Lakes Conference and 12-3 overall.
Taylor Filipek finished with a season-high 31 points.
The senior forward had 21 points by halftime. He drained two 3-pointers each half and converted a steal to a dunk early in the second half. He also pulled in 10 rebounds.
The Cardinals had suffered through a three-game slide before finally beating Marshall two days earlier on Sam Esboldt's basket at the buzzer, 42-40.
Willmar had reason to fear Apollo more than normal. The Eagles had rocked previously un-beaten St. Cloud Tech 80-75 three days after the Tigers had handed Willmar its first loss Jan. 12.
Apollo's strength is in the post but Willmar limited 6-foot-8 Simon Krych to four field goals and 14 points. The Eagles had little success from outside either, making only 1 of 11 three-point at-tempts.
Willmar went up at the halftime buzzer 39-24 on a six-foot jump shot by Sam Spaulding.
The Cardinals hit the floor running in the second half. Filipek fired off 10 more points, Jimmy Unger hit a trey and a two-pointer for all five of his points and Andrew Bangen hit 4-of-4 free throws.
Brian Reeves came up with nine points, plus six rebounds.
For the Eagles (4-4, 7-8), Derek Steve finished with 13 points and 6-5 forward Blake Maslonkowski 10 but Apollo managed only five field goals the second half. It is the first time Apollo was held under 50 points.
Rocori (8-0, 12-2) handed St. Cloud Tech its second loss, 55-53, last night allowing Willmar to pull into a second-place tie.
The Cardinals start a four-game road trip on Tuesday in Cold Spring against the league-leading Spartans.
Willmar 70, SC Apollo 46
SC Apollo (4-4, 7-8) 24 22 -- 46
Willmar (6-2, 12-3) 39 31 -- 70
ST. CLOUD APOLLO - 14-44 FG (1-11 3-pt); 17-22 FT; 19 rebounds; 16 fouls ... Scoring: Derek Steve 13, Hussein Abdulkadir 4, Brett Maslonkowski 3, Simon Krych 14, Blake Maslonkowski 10, Tyler Beckman 2 ... 3-point shots: Brett Maslonkowski 1 ... Rebound, assist, steal leaders: not available
WILLMAR - 25-45 FG (6-15 3-pt); 14-16 FT; 30 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Mark Dunham 5, Jimmy Ungrer 5, Ryan Lawler 2, Andrew Bangen 4, Brian Reeves 9, Sam Esboldt 6, Sam Spaulding 4, Taylor Filipek 31, Jake Damhof 2, Alex Grove 2 ... 3-point shots: Dunham 1, Unger 1, Filipek 4 ... Rebound leaders: Filipek 10, Reeves 6 ... Assist leaders: Esboldt 4 ... Steal leaders: Bangen 3, Filipek 3