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Moorhead surges by Willmar boys

Jake Rambow of Willmar drives to the basket to score in the first half through Moorhead defenders, from left, Matt Watnemo, Travis Hand and Matt Fernholz at Willmar on Saturday. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

WILLMAR -- A tough week ended for the Willmar Cardinals with Nate Esboldt's three-point try to tie the game fell off the rim as the buzzer sounded, giving Moorhead a come-from-behind 57-54 non-conference win Saturday.

Making Willmar's third loss in five days tougher was seeing a 10-point halftime lead evaporate.

Willmar (11-8) came out strong, taking command behind the shooting of Jake Rambow and Jeremy Schendel, who together popped for five treys in the first 10 minutes. Austin Rambow came off the bench to score four points and pull down seven rebounds in the first half.

The Cardinals went on an 8-0 run to end the half with a 33-23 lead.

But Moorhead had the hot hand the second half. A 15-4 run put the Spuds up 38-37 before Jimmy Unger's 3-pointer put Willmar in front, 42-41. Willmar's last lead came at 5:00, 47-46.

Inbounding at mid-court and trailing by three with two seconds left, Esboldt rushed to the top of the key and had a clean look, but his shot rolled off the right side of the rim.

Willmar was 9 of 20 on 3s and 22 of 52 overall, but got to the free throw line just once (1 of 2). Moorhead (12-7) had the edge in rebounds, 38-30, and at the line (8 of 14).

Jake Rambow finished with 17 points, Unger with 16 (11 in the second half) and Schendel with eight. Jake Damhof got 12 rebounds, Esboldt six assists.

The Spuds were balanced with six players scoring between 7 to 13 points. Jared Widner led with 13.

Willmar plays at Sartell Thursday and at Bemidji Saturday.

Moorhead 57, Willmar 54

Moorhead (12-7) 23 34 -- 57

Willmar (11-8) 33 23 -- 54

MOORHEAD - 22-55 FG (5-12 3-pt); 8-14 FT; 38 rebounds; 11 fouls ... Scoring: Matt Fernholz 8, Matt Ellingson 8, Aaron Lien 9, Jared Widner 13, Trvis Hand 7, Matt Watnemo 12 ... 3-point shots: Fernholz 2, Lien 2, Watnemo 1 ... Rebound leaders: note available

WILLMAR - 22-52 FG (9-20 3-pt); 1-2 FT; 30 rebounds; 16 fouls ... Scoring: Dean Stier 2, Nate Esboldt 2, Jeremy Schendel 8, Jimmy Unger 16, Jake Rambow 17, Austin Rambow 4, Alex Grove 5 ... 3-point shots: Schendel 2, Unger 3, Rambow 3, Grove 1 ... Rebound leaders: Jake Damhof 12, A. Rambow 7 ... Assist leaders: Esboldt 7 ... Steal leaders: none