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Willmar continues success on Little Falls' home court

LITTLE FALLS -- For the eighth straight year, Willmar has found success on Little Falls' home court.

The Cardinals held off a late Flyers' comeback, winning 61-56 in a Central Lakes Conference boys basketball game on Friday.

Willmar last lost at Little Falls on March 1, 2002.

There were a dozen lead changes in the first half with the Cardinals nursing a 28-26 lead at the break behind Taylor Filipek's 14 points.

Brian Reeves picked up the scoring load in the second half when the junior center put up 14 of his 18 points. Willmar got ahead by as many as 11 points in the second half, leading 45-34 with just over five minutes left.

But the Flyers, who upset Willmar 54-48 on Jan. 15 in Willmar, shaved the lead to 51-49 with a minute remaining in the game.

Andrew Bangen made two free throws on a technical foul for a four-point lead but 6-foot-8 Dan Kornbaum scored with :43 left and it was two points again, 53-51.

Filipek made two free throws -- his first points of the second half -- and after a Sam Esboldt rebound got a lay-up for a 57-51 lead. Bangen and Filipek each made two more free throws in the final 10 seconds.

"We played with a lot more energy and hit the boards hard," said Willmar coach Steve Grove. "We were able to get a 10-point, 11-point lead in the second half and the kids were hitting the offensive boards creating opportunities for themselves."

Filipek finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Korbaum scored 30 for the Flyers (11-5, 16-8).

Willmar is at St. Cloud Apollo on Monday.

Willmar 61, Little Falls 56

Willmar (9-7, 16-8) 28 33 -- 61

Little Falls (11-5, 16-8) 26 30 -- 56

WILLMAR - 19-38 FG (5-12 3-pt); 18-24 FT; 28 rebounds; 14 fouls ... Scoring: Jimmy Unger 1, Jake Rambow 5, Andrew Bangen 6, Brian Reeves 18, Sam Esboldt 5, Sam Spaulding 6, Taylor Filipek 20 ... 3-point shots: Rambow 1, Esboldt 1, Filipek 1, Spaulding 2 ... Rebound leaders: Filipek 11, Reeves 6 ... Assist leaders: Filipek 4, Unger 4 ... Steal leaders: none

LITTLE FALLS - 23-62 FG (4-23 3-pt); 6-8 FT; 25 rebounds; 18 fouls ... Scoring: Alex Scott 5, Zach Horejsi 3, Michel Wetzel 3, Grant Bell 5, Matt Hanowski 3, Dan Kornbaum 30, Ethan Mustonen 7 ... 3-point shots: Scott 1, Hoerjsi 1, Wetzel 1, Bell 1 ... Rebound, assist and steal leaders not available