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Willmar rolls in opener

ALEXANDRIA -- The Central Lakes Conference chose to pit the conference champion (Alexandria) and the runner-up (Willmar) in the season opener Tuesday night at Jefferson High.

It looked like a marquee match-up, but it turned into a blowout as Willmar romped 52-28.

Laura Nielsen and Andrea Brown, Willmar's most veteran members, each scored 13 points. Junior Brin Hanson followed with 12.

Willmar had the edge in both experience (Alexandria lost four starters) and firepower. Willmar's half-court person-to-person defense never let the host team find an offensive rhythm.

"It was a great effort defensively," said Atchison. "Brin Hanson was a real catalyst on defense and got our offense going. She played awesome tonight."

Last season Willmar won 50-49 at Alexandria but fell 50-46 at home, a loss that denied Willmar a third straight CLC title.

Willmar 52, Alexandria 28

Willmar (1-0, 1-0) 18 34-- 52

Alexandria (0-1, 0-1) 7 21-- 28

WILLMAR - 20-52 FG (4-11 3 pt); 8-15 FT; 14 rebounds; 11 fouls .... Scoring: Andrea Brown 13, Brin Hanson 12, Stef Bredberg 2, Shelby Warner 2, Katie Holmgren 2, Lisa Nielsen 3, Laura Nielsen 13, Brianna Goldschmidt 5 .... 3-point shots: Brown 2, Goldschmidt, Hanson .... Rebound leader: Nielsen 5 .... Assist leader: Hanson 2 .... Steal leader: Hanson 4 ... Blocked shots: Holmgren 2

ALEXANDRIA - 11 FG (2 3 pt); 4-7 FT; NA rebounds; 14 fouls .... Scoring: Katie Hedine 2, Sarah Wyfells 2, Amanda Otterness 3, Bria Lanners 3, Caitlin Dunn 8, Sarah Weaver 5, Laura Strand 2, Ashley Kappas 3 .... 3-point shots: Otterness, Weaver .... Rebound leader: NA

NEXT -- Willmar: Friday, home vs. Sartell

Willmar coach Brad Atchison went four-deep into his bench starting early in the game, which has now been extended to two 18-minute halves for the first time.

Both teams had the jitters to start. But Willmar was especially pesky on defense. Power forward Katie Holmgren had two early blocks. Hanson used her quickness for a steal and a lay-in for an 11-5 lead.

Alexandria collapsed on the 6-2 Nielsen, but that left their flanks exposed. Brown, the All-CLC point guard, got her first field goal late in the first half, drilling a 16-footer which she quickly followed with a three-pointer for a 16-7 Willmar lead.

Brianna Goldschmidt followed with a 15-footer for an 18-7 bulge at halftime.

Brown started the second half with her second trey and Hanson made a three-point play for a 24-9 lead. Stef Bredberg and Shelby Warner supplied points off the bench as the lead grew to 32-13