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Montevideo clips Willmar again

WILLMAR -- The Montevideo Thunder Hawks put another notch in the belt of the West Central Conference, knocking off Willmar 61-59 on Saturday night.

Eric Brandon motored coast-to-coast to score the winning basket on a layup with under a second left.

Montevideo also beat Willmar by six points a year ago in Montevideo. Both teams went on to reach the state tournament; the Thunder Hawks out of Section 3AA and Willmar out of 2AAA. This season, each team returned two starters.

The Thunder Hawks (12-4) were coming off a wrenching one-point loss two nights earlier to West Central South foe Morris. In that game, the Thunder Hawks surrendered a double-digit lead in the late going.

But Saturday, it was Willmar that again couldn't get much done offensively in the late going. Consequently, a 46-35 lead with under 13 minutes to play evaporated as the Cardinals' offense stagnated as it has done in other big games.

Huge in the Montevideo comeback were a trio of three-pointers by Brett Bergeson, his only field goals of the game. Two came on back-to-back possessions and decreased Willmar's lead from 51-44 to 51-50 with six minutes remaining.

Willmar answered a minute lateron a James Neis drive and dish to sophomore center Brian Reeves for a 53-50 lead

"That was a nice play and I thought it was going to get us going again," said Willmar head coach Steve Grove. "But we didn't attack. We settled for jump shots and when we did attack, it was into the teeth of the defense."

It was 55-55 after Montevideo's Jeff Jerve handed off to Jacobey Johnson for a wide-open layup with three minutes to go.

Willmar's Taylor Filipek then drove to the iron for consecutive layups and a 59-57 Willmar lead.

But Jerve, a husky 6-5 football recruit for North Dakota State, scored inside to tie it 59-all at 1:14.

Filipek drove again, but missed and Montevideo rebounded, but soon traveled and Willmar had the ball back at :37.1.

Jordan Smith, who cashed three 3-pointers in a 13-2 Willmar run to end the second half with a 33-27 lead, got an open look from the baseline with just under 10 seconds remaining. It missed and Montevideo rebounded and called timeout.

With 7.5 seconds to go, Montevideo's Ryan Boike inbounded to Brandon along the baseline. The senior guard headed straight up court and into the lane against several Cardinals to deliver a layup which hung on the ring a moment before falling in.

"I knew they would be hesitant to foul and send me to the line," said Brandon, who also drove end-to-end to score at the horn and beat New London-Spicer 69-67 on Jan. 10. "If they committed to me, the plan was to dish off to one of our shooters, but I got a step so I decided to go right to the hoop."

Brandon finished with 19 points and five assists. Jerve added 13 points and 16 rebounds. Bergeson and Boike had 10 points apiece.

This win goes with an impressive 83-73 victory against Southwest Conference co-leader Redwood Valley on Jan. 27.

Willmar (13-6) was led by Smith and Taylor Filipek, each with 19 points and Reeves with 13. Smith also pulled down 10 rebounds to a double-double.

Montevideo 61, Willmar 59

Montevideo (12-4) 27 34 -- 61

Willmar (13-6) 33 26 -- 59

MONTEVIDEO - 25-57 FG (5-16 3-pt); 7-10 FT; 35 rebounds; 14 fouls ... Scoring: Eric Brandon 19, Jacobey Johnson 2, Ryan Boike 10, Brock Ackerman 4, Brett Bergeson 11, Jeff Jerve 13, Jake Douglas 2 ... 3-point shots: Boike 2, Bergeson 3 ... Rebound leaders: Jerve 16, Brandon 6, Douglas 5 ... Assist leaders: Brandon 5 ... Steal leaders: Brandon 3

WILLMAR - 24-54 FG (3-15 3-pt); 8-18 FT; 32rebounds; 13 fouls ... Scoring: Jordan Smith 19, Isaiah Streed 4, Taylor Filipek 19, Ryan Filipek 4, Brian Reeves 13 ... 3-point shots: Smith 3 ... Rebound leaders: Smith 10, Reeves 7 ... Assist leaders: Smith 5, Streed 4 ... Steal leaders: T.Filipek 2