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Willmar, NLS to battle in final

Willmar's Carrie Boike contests a shot by Ali Clark of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg in the first half of their West Central Tribune WildCard Tournament game on Tuesday. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Willmar center Alex Lippert puts up a two-point basket over KMS guard Britta Diem (20) during the first half Tuesday in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

WILLMAR -- Tonight will be a matchup of highly-ranked girls basketball teams when Willmar and New London-Spicer play for top honors at the West Central Tribune WildCard Tournament.

Willmar, ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, decked Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 61-37 in Tuesday's nightcap. Earlier in the evening, the No. 2-ranked team in Class AA rejected Benson's upset bid 46-37.

"I think we match up well," said Willmar coach Brad Atchison of the impending showdown of county neighbors. "Our girls are experienced enough to do the job versus their pressure and our size gives us good matchups inside. This is a great opportunity to play a quality opponent."

The Fighting Saints (4-3), playing two classes up, were unable to get much going inside against Willmar's tall front line. They trailed 34-15 at halftime and then Jena Thompson came out and scored the first eight points of the last half for a 42-15 edge.

Atchison substituted freely in both halves. Thompson finished with 14 points and 6-foot-4 Alex Lippert 12 points and five blocks. Hannah Smith's all-around game included 11 points, five assists and five steals.

The second unit was led by Shantel Kelly with nine points and Lucinda Sweazey with six steals.

Eleven players scored for KMS topped by freshman Ali Clark with eight.

"I like the way we played," said Atchison. "We talked before hand about being more aggressive taking shots and showing more energy on both ends."

Willmar 61, KMS 37

KMS (4-3) 15 22 -- 37

Willmar (6-0) 34 27 -- 61

KERKHOVEN-MURDOCK-SUNBURG - 13-34 FG (1-6 3-pt); 10-19 FT; 33 rebounds; 13 fouls ... Scoring: Brooke Carlson 3, Melissa Just 4, Shelby Swanson 6, Brielle Hauge 1, Tracy Braaten 2, Ashley Carlson 3, Leah Miller 2, Britta Diem 4, Katelyn Lottman 2, Ellen Johnson 2, Ali Clark 8 ... 3-point shots: Diem 1 ... Rebound leaders: Just 7, Braaten 7 ... Assist leaders: Sam Dunn 4 ... Steal leaders: none

WILLMAR - 25-61 FG (2-7 3-pt); 9-13 FT; 29 rebounds; 20 fouls ... Scoring: Mariel Aamot 2, Hannah Smith 11, Shantel Kelly 9, Sara Kallhoff 5, Kayli Gimse 4, Jen Knake 4, Alex Lippert 12, Jena Thompson 14 ... 3-point shots: Smith 1, Kelly 1 ... Rebound leaders: Lippert 6, Thompson 5 ... Assist leaders: Smith 5 ... Steal leaders: Lucinda Sweazey 6, Smith 5 ... Blocks: Lippert 5

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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