WILLMAR -- The shortest player on the court made the biggest shot of the game Tuesday for Willmar.
Mariel Aamot, listed at 5-4, converted a layup with just under two minutes left to put Willmar ahead for good as the Cardinals went on to rally past Little Falls 53-52 and move into a first-place tie in the Central Lakes Conference game.
Little Falls, who entered the game unbeaten in Central Lakes Conference play at 5-0, owned the lead for the majority of the game. The Flyers (5-1, 7-4) led by 10 points at one time in the first half as Willmar (5-1, 8-2) had trouble knocking down jumpers and converting shots down low.
But the Cardinals found a better rhythm offensively and took advantage of 14 Flyer turnovers in the second half to fight their way back.
Hannah Smith, who led Willmar with 14 points, made a three-pointer from the right wing with 5:58 left in the second half to tie the game at 38-38. The Flyers answered with a three-pointer of their own 30 seconds later and stayed in front until Alex Lippert grabbed an offensive rebound and made a layup with 3:23 left for Willmar.
The lead then changed hands twice before Aamot put Willmar ahead for good with her basket.
Aamot was all alone under the basket when Kelsey Evans fired her a sharp pass.
Jena Thompson followed Smith with 12 points and Evans added 10 more. Thompson also hooked 11 rebounds to post a double-double.
Thompson and Smith also made two free throws each in the final minute to help seal the win. Emily Nelsen made one of two free-throw attempts with 17 seconds left to put Willmar up 53-50.
The Cardinals host CLC rival St. Cloud Apollo on Friday.
Willmar 53, Little Falls 52
Little Falls (5-1, 7-4) 25 27 -- 52
Willmar (5-1, 8-2) 21 32 -- 53
LITTLE FALLS - 20-47 FG (1-4 3-pt); 11-18 FT; 39 rebounds; 20 fouls ... Scoring: Danel Okerman 2, Paige Beseman 19, Megan Voss 4, Trisha Wippler 7, Whitney Weisz 11, Carlee Davich 3, Katie Hochstrung 6 ... 3-point shots: Wittler 1 ... Rebound leaders: Hochstrung 6, Weisz 13, Wippler 8 ... Assist leaders: Beseman 2, Wippler 2, Hochstrung 2 ... Steal leaders: Beseman 7, Wippler 3
WILLMAR - 18-62 FG (2-11 3-pt); 15-24 FT; 36 rebounds; 13 fouls ... Scoring: Kelsey Evans 10, Mariel Aamot 8, Hannah Smith 14, Emily Nelsen 1, Alex Lippert 8, Jena Thompson 12 ... 3-point shots: Smith 2 ... Rebound leaders: Thompson 11, Lippert 6, Evans 6 ... Assist leaders: Thompson 5 ... Steal leaders: Evans 6, Smith 4, Aamot 3 ... Blocks: Lippert 4