WILLMAR -- Willmar battled hard, but lost another close one -- this time 59-57 to St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday night in a Central Lakes Conference boys basketball game.
With five seconds left, the Cardinals went the length after a missed Apollo free throw. Isaac Streed got off a three-point shot to win at the horn, but it didn't fall.
It was the team's fifth loss by four or fewer points. Willmar has a two-game losing streak for the first time this season heading to Rocori Friday.
The Cardinals (11-5, 15-9) battled back from a 10-point deficit in the first half, 28-18, to tie the game by intermission, 30-all.
They fell behind 47-39 in the second half but again battled back to within a point of the lead.
"It never feels good to lose, but we're competitive," said Jordan Smith, who led all scorers with 20 points.
The Eagles (14-2, 21-3) locked up second place in the conference. They've won 12 of their last 13, the only loss last Thursday, 67-65, to unbeaten St. Cloud Tech.
Brian Reeves muscled up a basket with 1:21 left to cut the Eagles lead to 54-53.
The Eagles went up 58-54 on free throws with 14.9 seconds left, but Smith hit a running three-pointer from the wing and it was 58-57. Willmar fouled Ibrahim Abukar who made the front end but missed the second, giving Willmar one last chance.
The Eagles were 22 of 32 for the game compared to Willmar's 7 of 12 at the line.
Smith and Taylor Filipek with 18 and Reeves with 10 accounted for all but nine of Willmar's points.
Willmar coach Steve Grove said he liked his team's intensity and energy for all 36 minutes, compared to some recent games that they've won.
SC Apollo 59, Willmar 57
SC Apollo (14-2, 21-3) 30 29 -- 59
Willmar (11-5, 15-9) 30 27 -- 57
ST. CLOUD APOLLO - 18-38 FG (1-6 3-pt); 22-32 FT; 23 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Derek Steve 2, Hassan Abdulkadir 3, Mike Frericks 10, Andre Garth 11, Ibrahim Abukar 8, Blake Maslonkowski 9, Tyler Beckman 2, Tim Bergstraser 14... 3-point shots: Abdulkadir ... Rebound leaders: not available
WILLMAR - 23-46 FG (4-12 3-pt); 7-12 FT; 14 rebounds; 20 fouls ... Scoring: James Neis 2, Jordan Smith 20, Isaiah Streed 5, Taylor Filipek 18, Ryan Filipek 2, Brian Reeves 10 ... 3-point shots: Smith 4 ... Rebound leaders: Smith 5, T. Filipek 4 ... Assist leaders: Alec Saunders 2, Smith 2 ... Steal leaders: Smith 3, Reeves 3