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Boys Basketball: Moorhead outlasts Willmar in OT to snap Cards’ streak

MOORHEAD — Willmar battled back from a nine-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime, but Shane Steckler’s free throw with no time left on the clock secured Moorhead’s 83-82 victory over the Cardinals in a non-conference game Saturday.

“It was a great game, it’s just unfortunate it had to end that way,” said Cardinals head coach Steve Grove. “You never want the refs to decide it but that’s what happened. It was a back-and-forth game and I’m proud of the way our kids came back.”

Tyler Stegeman led the Cardinals with 28 points and Kyler Johnson had 21. Austin Grove scored 12 points and Joel Carter — who hit a shot at the end of regulation to force overtime — and Adam Nibaur both finished with 9 points.

Cody Dorow scored a game-high 40 points for Moorhead.

The Cardinals (16-6) led by as much as 12 at 27-15 midway through the first half but when the starting lineup began collecting fouls the unit seemed to lose synchronization at the same time the Spuds picked up their intensity to  surge to a 37-32 halftime lead.

Trailing by seven with two minutes left, Willmar fought back to knot the score 71-71 at the end of regulation. Carter scored on a three-point play and followed that with a deuce as the Spuds twice missed the front end of 1-and-1s.

The drama continued into overtime. Dorow, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, scoring at a 28 points per game clip, hit the Spuds’ first seven points of the extra frame. Stegeman sank a triple and a long two-pointer, tying it 78-all. Grove, on a pass from Stegeman, scored inside to put Willmar up 80-79 with 50 seconds left.

Dorow, whose high production is 49 points this season, sank a trey for a 82-80 Moorhead lead. Kyler Johnson tied it with five seconds left, on a put back, for a 82-all deadlock.

Steckler got off a running shot at the buzzer. A tough call sent the junior guard to the free throw line where he made the first of two chances with no time left on the clock for the 83-82 win.

Willmar is at Brainerd on Tuesday and then hosts the Warriors on Thursday. Alexandria handed Brainerd its third CLC loss on Thursday leaving Willmar alone in second (10-2) behind St. Cloud Tech (12-1).

A box score was not available due to technical issues.