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Willmar holds off Sartell

SARTELL -- The Willmar boys basketball team enters its short Christmas break undefeated after topping Sartell 61-55 in Central Lakes Conference boys basketball action Tuesday.

Taylor Filipek posted a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds for Willmar. He also blocked six shots. Brian Reeves added 16 points and Sam Spaulding grabbed seven boards.

The Cardinals (3-0, 5-0), ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, will host the Bremer Bank Holiday Tournament starting Saturday against Benson. New London-Spicer and Fond du Lac will meet in the other first-round game.

Willmar flew through first half, taking a 34-24 lead at halftime and looked poised to control the second half as well.

"We did a good job of driving the ball to the basket and creating shots," said Willmar coach Steve Grove.

Sam Esboldt scored eight of his 12 points in the first half to push the Cardinals.

"We put ourselves in position to do something in the second half," Grove added.

But things started to slip a little in the second half. Willmar increased its lead, but then let the Sabres gain some momentum.

The Cardinals outscored Sartell from the free-throw line, 12-7, which proved to be almost all of the winning margin. Unfortunately, Willmar made only five of its last 10 from the charity stripe, after making its first seven.

"We hung on," Grove noted. "We made enough free throws to keep them away."

Andrew Krupke and Ryan DeRock scored 16 points each to lead Sartell.

Willmar 61, Sartell 55

Willmar (3-0, 5-0) 34 27 -- 61

Sartell (1-2, 2-3) 24 31 -- 55

WILLMAR - 24-61 FG (1-13 3-pt); 12-17 FT; 23 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Andrew Bangen 4, Brian Reeves 16, Sam Esboldt 12, Sam Spaulding 2, Taylor Filipek 21, Jake Damhof 6 ... 3-point shots: Bangen 1 ... Rebound leaders: Filipek 14, Spaulding 7 ... Assist leaders: Spaulding 5 ... Steal leaders: Spaulding 1, Mark Dunham 1 ... Blocks: Filipek 6

SARTELL - 21-60 FG (6-18 3-pt); 7-11 FT; 23 rebounds; 19 fouls ... Scoring: Andrew Krupke 16, Brandt Bergeson 2, Cole Jenkens 8, Ryan DeRock 16, Cody Walhart 3, Jordan Gieske 10 ... 3-point shots: Krupke 2, Jenkins 2, DeRock 2 ... Rebound, assist, steal leaders not available