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Brainerd surges past Willmar

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals allowed an 11-point lead to slip away late in the game and lost 68-61 in overtime to Brainerd in a Central Lakes girls basketball game on Tuesday.

The Cardinals, who fell to 5-1 in the CLC and 10-2 overall with their second straight loss, were outpointed by the pressing Warriors 19-1 down the stretch and in the four-minute extra period.

Willmar led 60-49 with five minutes left. But the offense froze up as the Brainerd trap produced turnovers and missed free throws.

Willmar had the ball out of bounds under its own basket with 19 seconds left in the second half and leading 60-59. After inbounding, guard Hannah Smith was fouled and made one of two free throws with 14 seconds showing.

The Warriors' Alex Sauer drove the baseline, but her shot bounced off the rim to teammate Emilee Branum, who put up the tying shot just before the buzzer to tie it 61-61.

Brainerd carried the momentum into overtime, outscoring the Cardinals 7-0. Willmar had four turnovers and went 0-for-4 shooting.

Brainerd coach Carl Hendrickson applied the full-court press after his team struggled.

"We had a lull there after a good first half," he said. "We knew we had to get into a full-court game. We pressured the ball, and helped by our quickness, our defense took them out of their offense and we got some momentum going."

Willmar was 5 of 10 at the free-throw line in the second half.

"We missed some free throws late that hurt us," said Willmar coach Brad Atchison. "We know we have to do a better job of spreading the floor (against the press) and passing the ball. This was a tough loss."

Kayla Gimse and Alex Lippert each finished with 13 points for Willmar. Mariel Aamot added 11 points, Jen Knake eight and Jena Thompson seven. Lippert also led with nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

Brainerd 68, Willmar 61

Brainerd (5-2, 6-4) 29 39 -- 68

Willmar (5-1, 10-2) 30 31 -- 61

BRAINERD - 23-59 FG (5-18 3-pt); 17-26 FT; 30 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Alex Sauer 9, Kayla Kraemer 11, Carlie Sweet 2, Emilee Branum 15, Jaclyn Maybon 3, Tess Rahto 11, Gretchen Kletscher 17 ... 3-point shots: Sauer 1, Kraemer 3, Maybon 1 ... Rebound leaders: Kletscher 11, Branum 6 ... Assist leaders: Sauer 5, Branum 5 ... Steal leaders: Kraemer 2, Branum 2, Kletscher 2

WILLMAR - 25-57 FG (3-7 3-pt); 8-16 FT; 33 rebounds; 17 fouls ... Scoring: Mariel Aamot 11, Hannah Smith 6, Sara Kallhoff 3, Kayli Gimse 13, Jen Knake 8, Alex Lippert 13, Jena Thompson 7 ... 3-point shots: Aamot 1, Kallhoff 1, Gimse 1 ... Rebound leaders: Lippert 9, Knake 6 ... Assist leaders: Thompson 4 ... Steal leaders: Kallhoff 3 ... Blocks: Lippert 4, Knake 3