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Boys Basketball: Cardinals fly by Hutch in 2AAA

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton. Willmar senior forward Jeremy Olson gets off a first-half shot defended by Zach Miner of Hutchinson at the Cardinals gym on Tuesday in the quarterfinal round of Section 2AAA.

Tribune Staff Report

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals have a Saturday night date in Mankato -- with a Cougar.

Same as a year ago when the Cardinals got ditched by East 90-71 in the quarterfinals.

After handing Hutchison its exit pass from the Section 2AAA Tournament on Tuesday night 63-46, Willmar gets another shot at the Mankato East Cougars this time in the semifinal stop.

"East has some height," said head coach Steve Grove following the Cardinals' win. "Brody Ziegler is 6-foot-6 and (6-foot-4 Brett) Olson went off on us for 42 points last year."

The Cougars (23-4), the top seed, won their 10th straight with their 20-point win over Dassel-Cokato last night.

The 7 p.m. tipoff this Saturday will match the champion of the Central Lakes Conference and the runner-up (to Austin) in the Big Nine.

The Cardinals ended their home-court season the same way they began, beating the Tigers. Senior guard Jimmy Unger was the team's leading scorer last night with 18 and also on Dec. 8 with 23.

The Cardinals led throughout, never by less than four points but they couldn't shake off the visitors until the closing minutes.

Zach Miner's 3-pointer at 13:00 of the second half got the Tigers as close as 37-33. Ever patient, the Cardinals scored the next five points to pull away again.

Willmar's big edge, statistically, was at the free-throw line (17 of 20 to Hutchinson's 9 of 13) and on the glass where they outboarded the visitors nearly 3 to 1.

Austin Rambow finished with 13 points, though he sat about 10 minutes of the first half after picking up his second foul on a charge call. Alex Grove scored 8 of his 9 points in the first half while Mo Mohamud got both of Willmar's 3-pointers on the way to 12 points. Ever helpful, Dean Stier handed out 7 assists while taking only one shot, which he missed, but made 4 of 5 at the line.

Unger went 6 of 6 at the line and came up with 9 rebounds. Jeremy Olson contributed 7 points and 6 rebounds.

The game drew a big crowd, perhaps the second most all season, but they never got stirred up watching the business-like performance.

"Give credit to Hutch," said Grove. "They're tough. We just couldn't break free of them. But I'm pleased that we didn't force things. We did a good job working the ball inside."

Willmar shooters made 20 of 36 two-point chances.

The Tigers, seeded No. 5 to Willmar's No. 4, got 20 points from 6-2 forward Zach Hauser and 9 by 6-foot- guard Jake Shimpa.

Hutchinson (10-16) 22 24 -- 46

Willmar (18-8) 30 33 -- 63

HUTCHINSON - 16-53 FG (5-18 3-pt); 9-13 FT; 13 rebounds; 19 fouls ... Scoring: Alex Nassirzadeh 2, Shaun Schindler 2, Nic Hauer 20, Jacob Shimpa 9, Phil Kuball 5, Zach Miner 5, McKinley Anderson 3 ... 3-point shots: Miner 1, Kuball 1, Shimpa 2, Hauer 1

WILLMAR - 22-48 FG (2-12 3-pt); 17-20 FT; 35 rebounds;16 fouls ... Scoring: Dean Stier 4, Alex Grove 9, Jeremy Olson 7, Jimmy Unger 18, Austin Rambow 13, Mo Mohamud 12 ... 3-point shots: Mohamud 2 ... Rebound leaders: Unger 9, Olson 6, Mohamed 6, Rambow 4, Grove 7 ... Assist leaders: Stier 7, Joe Lueze 2, Grove 4 ... Steal leaders: Rambow 2, Grove 2 ... Blocked shots: Unger 2