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Boys basketball: Cards slide past Tech, remain undefeated

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Willmar's Drey Dirksen gathers to shoot while surrounded by St. Cloud Tech defenders Odier Olange, left, and Brevyn Span-Ford in Monday's game at Willmar High School. Jake Schultz / Tribune2 / 6
Willmar's Ty Roelofs attempts a layup during Monday's game against St. Cloud Tech at Willmar High School. Jake Schultz / Tribune3 / 6
Willmar's Jake Evans passes out of the lane during Monday's game against St. Cloud Tech at Willmar High School. Jake Schultz / Tribune4 / 6
Willmar's Donald Jurek guards St. Cloud Tech's James Kaczor as he takes it up the court during Monday's game at Willmar High School. Jake Schultz / Tribune5 / 6
Willmar's Noah Slagter looks to shoot during Monday's game against St. Cloud Tech at Willmar High School. Jake Schultz / Tribune6 / 6

WILLMAR—Drey Dirksen picked a good time to have the performance of his career.

The junior forward scored 28 points at a remarkably efficient clip to carry the Willmar boys basketball team for most of the evening, and Noah Slagter hit the game-winner in the final minute as the Cardinals improved to 18-0 with a 81-78 win over St. Cloud Tech on Monday.

The lone undefeated team remaining in Class AAA, Willmar has done plenty of winning this season. They said this one still felt a bit special.

"It really does feel special," Cardinals head coach Matt Williams said. "I told the guys in the locker room after that game that nobody can say that what they're doing is a fluke. Nobody can question that. They're playing at a high level and I'm so proud of them."

Rather than 18-0 and a 2.5-game lead in the Central Lakes Conference, Willmar was about one minute away from 17-1 and half-game advantage.

St. Cloud Tech (14-7, 8-3) buried a 3-pointer with just over one minute to play to put the Tigers up by two—tying their largest lead of the game.

Slagter, the team's leading scorer with just 10 points in the first 37 minutes, then converted a 3-point play with 52 seconds to play to put Willmar (18-0, 10-0) ahead 79-78.

"That's just Noah making a play. That's just what Noah does," Williams said.

Tech held the ball until Kail Lindgren missed a shot off the glass, contested by Dirksen, in the paint. The Tigers then fouled Slagter, a 90 percent free throw shooter with 12 seconds to play.

The senior guard hit both free throws to put the Cardinals up by three.

"You take for granted how good he is at the line sometimes," Williams said. "It's such a testament to how much work he's put in that he knows it's going in."

The Tigers would still get two shots to extend the game on the other end. Meyer missed an initial 3-point attempt, but Tech center Brevyn Spann-Ford grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked the ball back out to Meyer again.

The shot rimmed out. The Cardinals escaped.

"I was disappointed we couldn't get the rebound there, but that's a situation we practice," Williams said. "You're just praying those shots don't go in."

Williams said he debated fouling up by three with the seconds ticking down, but with 12 seconds on the clock to start the play and the rebounding prowess of Spann-Ford, the Cardinals opted to play defense and let the events run their course.

"Generally, it needs to be less than five seconds to foul for us," Williams said. "We work on all of that stuff, too. They had some guys that aren't really big shooting threats, so that also plays into the factor."

With the head-to-head tiebreaker against the second-place Tigers in hand, that lead is effectively 3.5 games for the Cardinals.

Spann-Ford, a University of Minnesota football recruit, used his size to dominate, leading the game with 29 points and 12 rebounds on 13-for-20 shooting.

Dirksen gave him and the Tigers fits on the other end, however.

Dirksen poured in a career-high in scoring, going 11-for-14 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line.

Once the first shots started falling for Dirksen, he simply kept them coming.

"It was a fun game and I just knew we needed someone to step up," Dirksen said. "It was a good, physical game. It was tough. We just knew that we had to keep pushing and our shots would fall eventually. Coach tells us that if we're feeling to shots, to shoot it."

Dirksen took over early in the second half, scoring eight points in the early part of the period to give Willmar its largest lead of the game at 54-44.

Spann-Ford kept Tech alive, though, and a James Kaczor 3-point play gave it a 59-58 lead. Dirksen scored a pair of layups in a matter of seconds as a quick 6-0 response to put the Cardinals back up by five with 7:04 to play.

From there, Willmar led until a Meyer layup made it 75-74 Tech with 1:50 to play.

Both teams were efficient offensively, with the Cardinals out-shooting the Tigers 54 percent to 52 percent. Willmar went 17-for-22 form the line, while Spann-Ford was just 3-for-9 on his own.

Ty Roelofs scored all 12 of his points in the first half as the Cardinals led 42-38 entering the locker room.

"It was just one heck of a physical game with two really good teams and two really good offenses," Williams said. "The crowd was great, the student section was into it all night. That was everything good about high school sports tonight."

Willmar 81, SC Tech 78

SC Tech (14-7) 38 40 — 78

Willmar (18-0) 42 39 — 81

ST. CLOUD TECH - Scoring: Brevyn Spann-Ford 29, James Kaczor 19, Trent Meyer 15, Nate Trewick 12, Brady Underwood 3 ... 3-point shots: Meyer 1, Trewick 4 ... Rebound leader: Span-Ford 12, Kaczor 4, Meyer 4 ... Assist leader: Span-Ford 2, Kaczor 1, Meyer 1 ... Steal leader: Span-Ford 2, Kaczor 2

WILLMAR - Scoring: Drey Dirksen 28, Noah Slagter 15, Ty Roelofs 12, Cameron Murphy 8, Noah Getz 6, Ryan Slette 6, Jake Evans 3, Adam Roux 2, Donald Jurek 1 ... 3-point shots: Dirksen 2, Slagter 1, Evans 1 ... Rebound leader: Slagter 8, Roelofs 7, Dirksen 6, Murphy 5 ... Assist leader: Getz 3, Roelofs 3 ... Steal leader: Roelofs 2, Slagter 1, Getz 1

Kimball 63, Litchfield 50

Kimball's first half proved to be enough as they held off Litchfield in a tough non-conference battle.

Hayden Gagnon led all scorers with 24 points for Kimball but Owen Boerema brought plenty of fire for the Dragons, scoring 17 points with six rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

Litchfield (9-10) 20 30 — 50

Kimball (15-6) 33 30 — 63

LITCHFIELD - Scoring: Logan Graphenteen 2, Alex Gruenke 14, Tyson Michels 4, Owen Boerema 17, Joe Pennertz 3, Jordan Green 2, Jake Schneider 8 ... 3-point shots: Gruenke 3, Boerema 2, Schneider 1 ... Rebound leader: Boerema 6 ... Assist leader: Boerema 5 ... Steal leader: Gruenke 3

KIMBALL - Scoring: Hayden Gagnon 24, Thomas Pearson 2, Drew Gustafson 17, Noah Jurek 1, Weston Hine 13, Michael Hoffmann 6 ... 3-point shots: Gagnon 1, Gustafson 3, Hoffmann 1 ... Rebound leader: Pearson 4, Hine 4 ... Assist leader: Pearson 3 ... Steal leader: Gustafson 3

ACGC 74, KMS 67

Dawson Miller scored a game-high 23 points, Steven Lawver had 19 points and eight rebounds and Jaren Kaddatz had 17 points and 10 rebounds in ACGC's win over KMS on Monday in Grove City.

Ethan Hauge led KMS with 16 points, Brandon Rasmusson had 13 points and Regan Carlson and Weston Gjerde both scored 12.

ACGC plays host to Benson at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in Grove City.

KMS (9-10) 32 35 — 67

ACGC (8-10) 29 45 — 74

KMS - Scoring: Isaac Call 7, Weston Gjerde 12, Regan Carlson 12, Ethan Hauge 16, Brandon Rasmusson 13, Noah Thorson 2, Josh Peterson 5 ... 3-point shots: Call 1, Carlson 2, Hauge 1 ... Rebound leader: Hauge 4, Peterson 4 ... Assist leader: Hauge 4, Peterson 4 ... Steal leader: Hauge 5, Rasmusson 4

ACGC - Scoring: Josh Kinzler 4, Kobe Holtz 4, Brayden Hedtke 1, Jaren Kaddatz 17, Dawson Miller 23, Steven Lawver 19, Michael Lambert 4, Jordan Schumacher 2 ... 3-point shots: Kaddatz 1, Miller 3, Lawver 1 ... Rebound leader: Holtz 10, Kaddatz 10, Lawver 8 ... Assist leader: Kinzler 7 ... Steal leader: Kinzler 2

YME 48, Benson 44

Carter Sneller scored 15 points and Bennett Knapper added nine to lead Yellow Medicine East to a victory over Benson on Monday in Benson.

Benson's Will Enderson had 24 points and eight rebounds and Sam Lundebrek registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

YME (2-15) 26 22 — 48

Benson (0-20) 20 24 — 44

YELLOW MEDICINE EAST - Scoring: Nicky Lindstrom 5, Bennett Knapper 9, Carter Sneller 15, Ethan Peterson 3, Jahrell Ischmon 5, Trent Skjefte 6, Dalton Anderson 5 ... 3-point shots: Knapper 2, Sneller 2 ... Rebound leader: Ischmon 8, Sneller 6 ... Assist leader: NA ... Steal leader: NA

BENSON - Scoring: Austin Ose 4, Matt Goossen 3, Eric Hoium 1, Matt Connolly 1, Will Enderson 24, Sam Lundebrek 10, Jonas Habben 1 ... 3-point shots: Goossen 1, Enderson 8 ... Rebound leader: Lundebrek 10, Enderson 8 ... Assist leader: Ose 3 ... Steal leader: Enderson 4, Lundebrek 3

Melrose 75, Morris/CA 59

Melrose breezed past Morris/Chokio-Alberta in a West Central Conference battle.

Preston Keaveny led all scorers with 30 points for the Dutchmen to offset a strong performance from Jackson Loge. The Tiger finished with 21 points and eight rebounds.

Morris/CA (9-10) 34 25 — 59

Melrose (18-2) 35 40 — 75

MORRIS/CHOKIO-ALBERTA - Scoring: Tyler Reimers 2, Camden Arndt 14, Jackson Loge 21, Tate Nelson 7, Jaret Johnson 15 ... 3-point shots: Johnson 1 ... Rebound leader: Loge 8 ... Assist leader: Connor Koebernick 5 ... Steal leader: Arndt 2

MELROSE - Scoring: Traeton Keaveny 5, Reegan Nelson 16, Damon Van Beck 11, Andrew Johnson 2, Preston Keaveny 30, Grant Moscho 3, Rowan Nelson 4, Daniel Klassen 4 ... 3-point shots: T. Keaveny 1, R. Nelson 1, Van Beck 1 ... Rebound leader: R. Nelson 7, Van Beck 4 ... Assist leader: R. Nelson 4 ... Steal leader: R. Nelson 3

Minnewaska 60, Sauk Centre 55

Garrett Jensen scored 18 points and a balanced scoring attack helped Minnewaska down Sauk Centre on Monday at Minnewaska High School.

In addition to Jensen's output, five Lakers scored between six and nine points. Jaeger Jergenson had eight points and five rebounds and Matt Gruber finished with nine points.

Sauk Centre (10-9) 21 34 — 55

Minnewaska (14-5) 25 35 — 60

SAUK CENTRE - Scoring: Ryan Schirmers 3, Steven Namvar 6, Casey Schirmers 12, Jacob Jennissen 5, Alex Kowski 8, Cade Neubert 4 ... 3-point shots: R. Schirmers 1, C. Schirmers 2, Kowski 2, Neubert 1 ... Rebound leader: ... Assist leader: ... Steal leader:

MINNEWASKA - Scoring: Jackson Johnsrud 6, Jack Blevins 3, Ryan Christianson 6, Grant Jensen 8, Luke Barkeim 2, Jaeger Jergenson 8, Matt Gruber 9, Garrett Jensen 18 ... 3-point shots: Johnsrud 1, Blevins 1, Christianson 2 ... Rebound leader: Jergenson 5 ... Assist leader: Barkeim 4, Johnsrud 3 ... Steal leader: Johnsrud 1, Christianson 1, Grant Jensen 1, Barkeim 1, Jergenson 1

Ortonville 72, RCW 49

Ortonville took an 11-point lead and closed even stronger in a non-conference win over Renville County West on Monday in Ortonville.

RCW's Nathan Serbus finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Justin Schrupp also had a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

RCW (12-10) 27 22 — 49

Ortonville (15-4) 38 34 — 72

RENVILLE COUNTY WEST - Scoring: Trent Kjersten 2, Tony Froland 9, Ben Hendrickson 3, Justin Schrupp 14, Riley Ashburn 4, Nathan Serbus 17 ... 3-point shots: Hendrickson 1, Schrupp 2 ... Rebound leader: Serbus 12, Schrupp 10, Ashburn 6 ... Assist leader: Schrupp 7, Froland 3, Kjersten 3 ... Steal leader: Schrupp 2

ORTONVILLE - Scoring: Tyson Powell 21, Leo Zepeda 2, DaVonte Edwards 11, Nathan Strong 2, Jacob Hoernemann 2, Peter Treinen 21, Caden Wellnitz 13 ... 3-point shots: Powell 2, Treinen 4, Wellnitz 1 ... Rebound leader: Edwards 10, Wellnitz 6 ... Assist leader: Powell 7, Wellnitz 7 ... Steal leader: Powell 8, Edwards 4, Wellnitz 4

Springfield 90, BLHS 61

Decker Scheffler scored 28 points to lead Springfield to a win over Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Monday.

BLHS' Payton Diepold scored 21 points and Trent Weispfennig scored 16.

BLHS (6-12) 33 28 — 61

Springfield (18-1) 41 49 — 90

BUFFALO LAKE-HECTOR-STEWART - Scoring: Nathan Schultz 3, Ben Dornseif 2, Dane Daak 11, Trent Weispfennig 16, Sutton Melberg 2, Stefan Johnson 6, Payton Diepold 21 ... 3-point shots: Schultz 1, Daak 1, Weispfennig 3 ... Rebound leader: Johnson 7, Diepold 7 ... Assist leader: NA ... Steal leader: NA

SPRINGFIELD - Scoring: Elijah Kirschstein 2, Decker Scheffler 28, Jordan Kieper 10, Ivan Hovland 2, Nolan Hovland 7, Tanner Vogel 21, Mitchell Buerkle 6, Jake Rosenstengel 2, Dylan Rubey 2, Curtis Tauer 10 ... 3-point shots: Scheffler 3, Kieper 1, N. Hovland 1, Vogel 1 ... Rebound leader: Scheffler 10 ... Assist leader: NA ... Steal leader: NA

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