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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Willmar’s Heather Horning eyes a lay-up and a three-point play when fouled by Alexandria’s Sarah Bruzak, right, for Willmar’s first lead, 20-17, after trailing 11-0 in the first half Thursday in Willmar.

Girls basketball: Willmar rallies past Alexandria

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WILLMAR — Just because you stub your toe and spill your cereal on the way to the breakfast table doesn’t have to mean it’s going to be a bad day.

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The Willmar Cardinals, looking bleary eyed, stumbled early but took a deep breath, kept their collective chins up and came away with an impressive 72-60 victory over Alexandria on Thursday night before a small but well-rewarded crowd who came out in a “spring” rain.

Willmar fell behind 11-0 unable to solve Alexandria’s trapping defense which forced many turnovers in the first 10 minutes.

Anne Dunham broke the spell with two free throws and Kalley Fosso drained a 3-pointer from the side for Willmar’s first field goal with just under six-minutes gone. Fosso followed with a deuce and another triple to make it 14-10.

The home-town Cardinals kept coming: Dunham got inside to tie the game 17-all and then Heather Horning got loose down the bench side for a lay-up and free-throw to put Willmar up 20-17, topping a 20-9 Willmar run.

Willmar would lead the second-place visiting Redbirds 33-32 at halftime. Point guard Courtney Magnuson, afflicted by turnovers in the early going, settled down the second half while scoring 10 of her 14 points.

Willmar’s lead would climb to as many as 17 points. After missing its first 8 shots, the team combined to make 24 of its next 42 and finish with 48 percent accuracy.

“It was our best shooting all year,” said first-year head coach Dustin Carlson. “We’ve been stressing that everyone has to shoot the ball. We had a rough start against their trap but we told the girls to keep shooting.”

Willmar long-shooters made 6 of 15 from bonus territory. The Cards also tamed  Alexandria’s traditional 1-3-1 trap.

Dunham ended up with a game-high 18 points, Fosso 17, plus 6 assists, and Horning 9 points and 7 rebounds, as did Dunham.

Caroline Bell and Leah Ruter each contributed 6 points.

Willmar (3-3, 5-6) hosts St. Cloud Tech (2-3, 6-6) on Saturday evening.

Willmar 72, Alexandria 60

Alexandria (5-2 7-6)    32  28 — 60

Willmar (3-3 5-6)    33  39 — 72

ALEXANDRIA – 19-59 FG (3-12 3-pt); 19-26 FT; 26 rebounds; 22 fouls … Scoring: Kendall Kohler 2, Emily Thul 3, Amanda Christianson 14, Danielle Strater 5, Sarah Bruzek 6, Karly Betterman 8, Jessi Syvrud 2, Jaylen Olson-Rodel 2, Kalli Bower 15, Amanda Gould 1, Carly Dropnik 2 … 3-point shots: Thul, Christianson, Strater

WILLMAR – 24-50 FG (6-15 3-pt); 18-30 FT; 44 rebounds; 18 fouls … Scoring: Courtney Magnuson 14, Heather Horning 9, Anne Dunham 18, Kalley Fosso 17, Caroline Bell 6, Jennie Magnuson 2, Leah Ruter 6 … 3-point shots: Magnuson 1, Horning 2, Fosso 3 … Rebound leaders: Horning 7, Dunham 7, McKenzie Hastad 4, Fosso 5, J. Magnuson 4 … Assist leaders: Fosso 6, C. Magnuson 4 … Steal leaders: Fosso 4 .. Blocks: Dunham 3, Horning 2

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