LITTLE FALLS -- Muffled all night by the Flyers' defense, Taylor Filipek finished with a bang Thursday.
The 6-6 junior guard gunned in a three-point shot at the horn and the Willmar Cardinals squeezed by Little Falls 52-50 in an explosive finish to a Central Lakes Conference boys basketball game.
Trailing 50-49, Willmar had the ball out under the Flyers' basket with three seconds left. Filipek took a pass from Jordan Smith and put up a shot from several feet outside the arc with two defenders in his face.
The buzzer sounded as the ball left his fingertips.
Watched closely all night, Filipek (13.7 ppg average) finished with just seven points. Smith, averaging 16.2 ppg, also drew special attention and was held to five points.
Sophomore forward Brian Reeves picked up the slack by scoring 14 points. He was followed by Isaiah Streed with 11 points. Reeves also had 10 rebounds, six offensive.
Streed hit two free throws in the last minute to put Willmar up 49-48. But 6-foot-8 Dan Kornbaum hit a basket with 30 seconds left to put the Flyers up 50-49.
The Flyers made nine 3-pointers, three at the start to go up 11-0. Willmar surged to an 18-14 lead and would lead 30-23 at half. But the Cardinals were ice cold the second half and fell behind 42-40.
Despite a cold hand, Smith made his presence felt with nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
Flyers' senior 6-2 guard Nick Erdrich hit four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 16 points.
Both teams played in the Class AAA state tournament last season.
The Cardinals are at St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday.
Willmar 52, Little Falls 50
Willmar (4-0, 8-2) 30 22 -- 52
Little Falls (1-4, 5-5) 23 27 -- 50
WILLMAR - 19-54 FG (5-24 3-pt); 9-12 FT; 31 rebounds; 10 fouls ... Scoring: Alec Saunders 8, Jordan Smith 5, Logan Birkland 2, James Neis 5, Isaiah Streed 11, Taylor Filipek 7, Brian Reeves 14 ... 3-point shots: Saunders 1, Neis 1, Smith 1, Filipek 1, Streed 1 ... Rebound leaders: Reeves 10, Smith 9 ... Assist leaders: Smith 4 ... Steal leaders: Streed 5
LITTLE FALLS - 19-44 FG (9-21 3-pt); 3-3 FT; 21 rebounds; 13 fouls ... Scoring: Ronnie Kornbaum 5, Dan Korbaum 10, Alex Scott 10, Zach Horejsi 2, Mitdch Dorn 6, Ethan Mustonen 4 ... 3-point shots: Scott 1, R. Kornbaum 1, D. Kornbaum 1, Dorn 2, Erdrich 4 ... Rebound leaders: not available