NEW LONDON -- New London-Spicer broke out of its rust early enough to cruise to a 65-40 win over Benson in the semifinals of the West Central Tribune WildCard girls basketball tournament Monday and set up the inevitable meeting with Willmar today.
The undefeated Wildcats (9-0) will take on the Cardinals at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Karli Wendlandt had a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds to lead NLS. Cassie Ziemer followed with 13 points.
The Braves (4-3) made the most of their open looks early on, with Sarah Ahrndt making three 3-pointers to give Benson an 11-5 lead.
NLS turned up the defensive pressure, however, and forced a number of turnovers that were converted to easy layups on the other end.
"Taylor Thompsen made several big steals in the first half that really helped us get out of our lethargic manner," said NLS coach Mike Dreier.
Then the Wildcats responded with their inside game. Wendlandt took control midway through the half, fighting for offensive rebounds and getting second-chance baskets. It pushed NLS to a 35-21 halftime lead.
"We tried to take what the defense gives us and that's one of the things that was positive for us," Dreier said of the team's post play. "They did a good job of getting the ball to the people on the inside."
The Wildcats continued to control the boards in the second half and finished with a 34-21 advantage. Thompsen recorded six steals.
Sarah Ahrndt scored 11 points in the first half for Benson, but was held scoreless in the second. Jenny Bouta added 10 points.
NL-Spicer 65, Benson 40
Benson (3-4) 21 19 -- 40
New London-Spicer (9-0) 35 30 -- 65
BENSON - 16-35 FG (4-11 3-pt); 4-12 FT; 21 rebounds; 13 fouls ... Scoring: Kayla Hampton 6, Julia Ahrndt 9, Taylor Semler 2, Jenny Bouta 10, Sarah Ahrndt 11, Abby Fragodt 2 ... 3-point shots: S.Ahrndt 3, J.Ahrndt 1 ... Rebound leaders: Fragodt 6 ... Assist leaders: Bre Lohn 3, Fragodt 3, S.Ahrndt 3 ... Steal leaders: J.Ahrndt 2
NEW LONDON-SPICER - 25-56 FG (5-15 3-pt); 10-18 FT; 34 rebounds; 12 fouls ... Scoring: Taylor Thompsen 8, Karsee Knutson 3, Justine Dammermann 3, Cassie Ziemer 13, Michele Hanson 4, Karli Wendlandt 23, Lauren Bennewitz 2, Anna Lindquist 6, Brianna Jacobson 3 ... 3-point shots: Knutson 1, Dammermann 1, Ziemer 3 ... Rebound leaders: Wendlandt 7, Jacobson 6, Brogen Lothert 5 ... Assist leaders: Ziemer 4, Dammermann 4 ... Steal leaders: Thompsen 6, Dammermann 5