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Willmar cruises past Sauk, 85-34

Mariel Aamot of Willmar brushes past Tasha Neu of Sauk Rapids in the first half of a Central Lakes Conference girls basketball game Tuesday at Willmar. Tribune photo by T.J. Bartelt

WILLMAR -- There's nothing like starting the season with a blowout.

The Willmar girls basketball team got the 2008-09 campaign going with an 85-34 win over Sauk Rapids in Central Lakes Conference action Tuesday.

It took the Cardinals a little time to get warmed up, however.

First, returning All-Area guard Kelsey Evans moved from shooting guard/small forward to point guard.

"It's interesting," she said. "Hopefully, I can pass the ball and post up this year."

Willmar had just a 10-7 lead in the first 5½ minutes, but then found its way inside with Jena Thompson, Emily Nelsen and Alex Lippert. The trio accounted for 18 points in the last 12 minutes of the half and the Cardinals dashed out to a 39-18 advantage.

Sauk Rapids didn't do much to stop the momentum in the second half, either.

Willmar kept pounding the ball into the paint, even with most of its second unit on the floor. Lippert scored eight points in the half and finished with 16 and Evans added 10 to lead all scorers with 19.

The second half also was the first time in the area that the new mercy rule was applied. If one team is ahead by 35-or-more points with nine minutes left, the clock will continue to run without stopping until the score differential goes under 30 points. The Cardinals led 73-24 at the nine-minute mark and played the rest of the game under running time.

All 15 Willmar players got playing time and 11 scored at least two points. Nelsen added 12, with Jena Thompson and Hannah Smith contributing eight each. Smith also led the Cardinals with 11 rebounds.

Willmar 85, Sauk Rapids 34

Sauk Rapids 18 16 -- 34

Willmar 39 46 -- 85

SAUK RAPIDS - 15-33 FG (1-2 3-pt); 3-8 FT; 20 rebounds; 22 fouls ... Scoring: Kenzie Moehle 4, Amanda Crawford 12, Sarah Stiller 6, Tasha Neu 2, Cori Becker 2, Amanda Trutwin 8 ... 3-point shots: Crawford 1 ... Rebound leaders: Trutwin 8 ... Assist leaders: Crawford 3 ... Steal leaders: not available

WILLMAR - 34-64 FG (2-6 3-pt); 15-23 FT; 39 rebounds; 16 fouls ... Scoring: Laura Dunlavy 3, Kelsey Evans 19, Mariel Aamot 7, Lesley Christianson 3, Hannah Smith 8, Emily Nelsen 12, Hannah Murphy 4, Karlee Johnson 2, Jenny Knake 3, Alex Lippert 16, Jena Thompson 8 ... 3-point shots: Evans 1, Aamot 1 ... Rebound leaders: Aamot 4, Smith 11, Nelsen 4, Lippert 4, Thompson 8 ... Assist leaders: Christianson 5, Smith 3, Thompson 4 ... Steal leaders: Evans 6, Christianson 3