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Willmar not sharp, but still stays unbeaten

Willmar's Jena Thompson, left, looks for a shot against Sartell center Andrea Whitney in the first half in the Cardinals' home opener on Tuesday night. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- School was dismissed for the holidays at mid-afternoon and much of the time it looked like the Willmar girls basketball team already was on vacation Tuesday night.

Despite a sputtering offense, the Cardinals picked up their fifth win without a loss by holding off Sartell 52-44 in a Central Lakes Conference game.

The home debut was marked by turnovers and fouls and plenty of scrappy play.

"We just weren't intense," said Willmar senior guard Mariel Aamot. "We're still staggering on offense; like running in mud. The defense got us through."

The Cardinals pulled out to early leads of 7-0 and 13-3, but could never shake the Sabres, who came in 3-0 in the Central Lakes and 4-1 overall.

Hannah Smith canned 6 of 6 free throws at the line down the stretch to prevent the Sabres from getting inside of four points of the lead.

Jena Thompson, one of five senior starters for the Cardinals, scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and made three blocks.

Smith followed with 13 points.

Andrea Whitney, the Sabres' 6-2 senior center, finished with a game-high 16 points plus nine rebounds.

The Sabres made 18 field goals to Willmar's 15, but the Cardinals made 22-of-27 at the free-throw line (81 percent).

Willmar worked hard defensively forcing numerous jump balls, plus Willmar had a 30-19 rebound edge.

Sartell forced one tie, 13-13, with a 10 point run but never got the lead.

Willmar is at the West Central Tribune Wild-Card Tournament on Tuesday to play KMS.

Willmar 52, Sartell 44

Sartell (3-1, 4-2) 22 22 -- 44

Willmar (3-0, 5-0) 32 20 -- 52

SARTELL - 18-40 FG (0-5 3-pt); 8-19 FT; 19 rebounds; 18 fouls ... Scoring: Melissa Jacobs 2, Morgan Haider 9, Haley Guetter 9, Jenna Flynn 3, Allie Rengel 5, Andrea Whitney 16 ... 3-point shots: none ... Rebound leaders: Whitney 9, Ashton Haider 5 ... Assist leaders: A. Haider 6 ... Steal leaders: M. Haider 4, Guetter 4

WILLMAR - 15-38 FG (0-3 3-pt); 22-27 FT; 30 rebounds; 19 fouls ... Scoring: Mariel Aamot 3, Lucinda Sweazey 3, Hannah Smith 13, Carrie Boike 6, Kayli Gimse 2, Jen Knake 4, Alex Lippert 6, Jena Thompson 15 ... 3-point shots: none ... Rebound leaders: Thompson 9, Smith 8 ... Assist leaders: Thompson 3 ... Steal leaders: Smith 3 ... Blocks: Thompson 3

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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