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NLS grabs title back

New London-Spicer's Cassie Ziemer, left, and Karli Wendlandt, second from right, battle for a rebound with Willmar's Jena Thompson in the first half of the WildCard championship Tuesday at New London. At right is Brianna Jacobson of NLS. Tribune photo by T.J. Bartelt

NEW LONDON -- Tough defense and a lot of rebounding usually equates to a victory.

It was the formula for success that New London-Spicer created in beating Willmar 47-32 for the West Central Tribune WildCard girls basketball title Tuesday.

New London-Spicer, which won the crown in 2006, regains the title after losing to Willmar last season.

Points were a premium commodity at the NLS High School gym with two teams well-known for their intensity without the ball.

"I thought we really played defense with a lot of intensity and rebounded pretty hard," said NLS coach Mike Dreier. The Wildcats held a 36-19 rebounding advantage.

It took five minutes for the teams to break past 10 combined points, with Justine Dammermann of the Wildcats nailing a three-pointer to give NLS an 8-4 lead. It was the closest the teams would be for the rest of the game.

The Wildcats, who remain undefeated with a 10-0 record, pressured the Cardinals (6-2) all game, knocking Willmar out of rhythm offensively.

NLS took a 23-8 lead with 4:09 left in the half on Dammermann's second 3-pointer, its biggest lead of the game. The Wildcats took a 28-16 advantage into the halftime break.

Scoring was in even higher demand in the second half, with a nearly six-minute stretch in which only two points -- a basket from Willmar's Hannah Smith -- were recorded.

That basket cut the lead to eight points, but NLS kept pressing in the backcourt and trapping the top corners in Willmar's offensive zone.

Dammermann and Cassie Ziemer picked up the scoring load for the Wildcats in the last six minutes, each collecting six points. Both finished with 14 points each to lead the team.

"We just had to play as a team and not give up," Ziemer said.

Ziemer added 11 rebounds to post a double-double for the Wildcats. Brianna Jacobson and Karli Wendlandt grabbed eight and seven boards, respectively.

Smith tallied a game-high 15 points for the Cardinals and added six rebounds. Only four players scored points for Willmar. Jena Thompson had seven points and seven rebounds.

NLS 47, Willmar 32

Willmar (6-2) 16 16 -- 32

NL-Spicer (10-0) 28 19 -- 47

WILLMAR - 12-45 FG (2-9 3-pt); 6-12 FT; 19 rebounds; 20 fouls ... Scoring: Kelsey Evans 4, Mariel Aamot 6, Hannah Smith 15, Jena Thompson 7 ... 3-point shots: Aamot 1, Smith 1 ... Rebound leaders: Thompson 7, Smith 6 ... Assist leaders: Thompson 2 ... Steal leaders: Smith 6

NEW LONDON-SPICER - 13-35 FG (5-13 3-pt); 16-20 FT; 36 rebounds; 11 fouls ... Scoring: Taylor Thompsen 5, Cassie Ziemer 14, Justine Dammermann 14, Michele Hanson 1, Karli Wendlandt 5, Abbey Knisely 2, Brianna Jacobson 6 ... 3-point shots: Thompsen 1, Dammermann 2, Ziemer 2 ... Rebound leaders: Ziemer 11, Jacobson 8, Wendlandt 7 ... Assist leaders: Kelsey Cors 3, Dammermann 3, Ziemer 3 ... Steal leaders: Thompsen 3, Cors 3