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Boys Basketball: Rambow, Cardinals take CLC

Tribune Staff Report

ST. CLOUD -- The Willmar boys basketball team has the Central Lakes Conference championship all to itself for the first time in eight years.

The Cardinals defeated St. Cloud Apollo 63-52 on Friday and edged ahead of Rocori for the outright title after the Spartans fell to St. Cloud Tech 54-50 in overtime.

Willmar last shared the CLC title in the 2007-2008 season, and the Cardinals are sole champions for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.

The Cardinals (17-8 overall) finished the conference schedule 12-4, a game ahead of Rocori (11-5 and 15-11 overall).

"The kids are very excited about it," said Cardinals head coach Steve Grove. The kids really played well and they deserved the victory. They controlled both halves."

Austin Rambow played a solid game for the Cardinals, with 24 points and 8 rebounds.

Jeremy Olson had 12 points and 7 boards, and Jimmy Unger had 11 points.

Willmar had trouble winning on the road this season, entering the game with a 4-7 mark away from its own gym.

But the Cardinals played consistently throughout, despite the setting and the big-game implications, Grove said.

"You do wonder how the team will react in these situations, but the kids played great all night. They played one of their better, if not their best, game all year."

The Cardinals open the section playoffs against Hutchinson on Tuesday in Willmar.

Willmar 63, Apollo 52

Willmar (12-4 17-8) 37 26 -- 63

SC Apollo (11-5 15-11) 27 25 -- 52

WILLMAR - 27-52 FG (2-8 3-pt); 7-10 FT; 30 rebounds; 11 fouls ... Scoring: Dean Stier 4, Jimmy Unger 11, Matt Suedbeck 2, Jeremy Olson 12, Mo Mohamud 4, Austin Rambow 24, Alex Grove 6 ... 3-point shots: Unger 1, Rambow 1 ... Rebound leaders: Rambow 8, Olson 7 ... Assist leaders: Mohamud 6, Stier 5 ... Steal leaders: Stier 2

ST. CLOUD APOLLO - 19-51 FG (9-20 3-pt); 5-8 FT; 23 rebounds; 11 fouls ... Scoring: Isaac Rakke 5, Hussein Abdul 4, Ethan Carlson 2, Reid Evans 9, Luke Stangler 4, Brett Maslonkowski 22, Trevor Tesch 4, Roma Pugachenko 2 ... 3-point shots: Evans 3, Maslonkowski 3, Rakke 1, Stangler 1, Tesch 1 ... Rebound leaders: NA ... Assist leaders: NA ... Steal leaders: NA