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Girls Basketball: Top-ranked Otters overwhelm Cardinals

WILLMAR — Class AAA’s top-ranked team was too much for the Willmar girls basketball team on Saturday but Cardinals head coach Dustin Carlson was pleased his team hung tough after falling behind big in the first half.

“I thought we really played tough today, especially in the second half,” Carlson said following Fergus Falls’ 67-44 win over the Cards.

“When you get a chance to play the best team in the state you need the ball to bounce your way multiple times,” he said. “Unfortunately, it kept hitting the rim.”

The Cardinals fell behind by 17 points at the break but showed resilience, even when their efforts didn’t cause much of a stir among the No. 1 Otters (8-0, 14-0).

Bailey Strand’s game-high 22 points — helped by a trio of 3-pointers — paced Fergus Falls.

Willmar shot just 25 percent from the field and didn’t fare much better at the free throw line, converting just 10 of 21 attempts.

Courtney Magnuson led the Cardinals with 17 points and Kalley Fosso hit double figures with 10 points. Kaitlynn Kienholz pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds.

The Cardinals had a three-game winning streak snapped and are 4-4 in the Central Lakes Conference and 7-7 overall heading into Tuesday’s scheduled home game against Sauk Rapids.

Despite Saturday’s loss, Carlson likes where his team is at heading down the stretch of the CLC schedule.

“We have improved tremendously this past week which brings more excitement for the second half of the season,” Carlson said.

Fergus Falls 67, Willmar 44

Fergus Falls (8-0, 14-0)   38 29 — 67

Willmar (4-4, 7-7)             21 22 — 44

FERGUS FALLS – Scoring: Devonie Smith 12, Kristin Traiser 12, Bailey Strand 22, Brianna Rasmusson 2, Kathryn Sawtell 13, Anna Monke 8 … 3-point shots: Smith 2, Strand 3, Sawtell 1

WILLMAR – 15-60 (4-15 3-pt); 10-21 FT; 38 rebounds; 14 fouls … Scoring: Courtney Magnuson 17, Megan Rudnick 3, Jordan Martins 4, Leah Ruter 2, Kalley Fosso 10, Lexi Orlowski 2, Kaitlynn Kienholz 6 … 3-point shots: Magnuson 3, Fosso 1 … Rebound leaders: Kienholz 7, Ruter 5, Martins 5, McKenzie Hastad 5 … Assist leaders: Magnuson 2 … Steals leaders: Ruter 2