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Filipek, Smith combine for 44 points as Cards stay game off lead

Willmar Cardinals forward Brian Reeves (55) goes up for a defensive rebound in the first half against Rocori's Ben Rausch in a Central Lakes Conference boys basketball game in Willmar on Friday. Tribune photo by Rasnd Middleton

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals hopped back on the winning track, beating Rocori 71-54 in a Central Lakes Conference boys basketball game on Friday.

Taylor Filipek drained five 3-point baskets and finished with 25 points. He also generated a team-high nine rebounds and handed out five assists.

Jordan Smith supplied 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Willmar was coming off a crushing 63-60 loss at St. Cloud Apollo, a game in which it once led by 19 points.

"These kids are pretty laid back," said Willmar coach Steve Grove. "I think I took it a lot harder than they did."

This was the third straight win over Rocori and their legendary coach Bob Brink. The Spartans aren't as talented or as tall as some years, but they always bring out the best in Willmar, it seems.

The visitors jumped in front 20-13 at the 10- minute mark, but Filipek triggered an 18-3 Willmar run with a trey over the Rocori zone. Ryan Filipek then put in a rebound seconds later and then a reverse layup by Isaiah Streed off a pass from James Neis put Willmar up 27-23.

"There was a lot of standing around at first but then we started attacking the zone," said Grove.

Brian Reeves had another good game scoring 10 points -- eight in the second half.

The Willmar defense gave up very few second shots and Rocori was seldom able to attack inside.

Adam Backes finished with 27 points. The senior guard had 25 points Tuesday in the Spartans' 98-73 loss in Cold Spring to St. Cloud Tech.

"Jimmer Neis and Alec Saunders did a nice job on him (Backes) in the second half," said Grove. "After he got a few early buckets, I think those two wore him down."

Willmar (5-1, 9-3) travels to Fergus Falls on Thursday for another CLC contest.

Willmar 71, Rocori 54

Rocori (3-4, 5-7) 32 22 -- 54

Willmar (5-1, 9-3) 36 35 -- 71

ROCORI - 22-55 FG (6-17 3-pt); 4-6 FT; 26 rebounds; 17 fouls ... Scoring: Adam Backes 27, Ben Rausch 7 Scott Willenbring 6, Bryan Lashinski 5, Scott Schroeder 4, Mitch Worm 1, Chris Lardy 4 ... 3-point shots: Backes 5, Lashinski 1... Rebound leaders: not available

WILLMAR - 25-46 FG (9-20 3-pt); 12-17 FT; 32 rebounds; 11 fouls ... Scoring: Taylor Filipek 25, Jordan Smith 19, Brian Reeves 10, Andrew Bangen 2, Ryan Filipek 4, Alec Saunders 4, Isaiah Streed 7 ... 3-point shots: Filipek 5, Smith 3, Streed 1 ... Rebound leaders: Smith 7, T. Filipek 9, R. Filipek 8, Reeves 4, Streed 4 ... Assist leaders: Smith 5, T. Filipek 5 ... Steal leaders: Smith 2, Reeves 2