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Brainerd tumbles Willmar

WILLMAR -- When they needed a three-spot the most, the Willmar Cardinals just couldn't cash in.

The Cardinal shooters went 1-for-6 from three-point range over the last two minutes trying to catch Brainerd, which left with a 58-52 win in Central Lakes Conference boys basketball on Friday.

The Warriors (6-7, 9-10) have won four straight since an overtime loss to St. Cloud Tech. The Warriors' strong showing before a big crowd on Meet the Cardinals Night avenged a 79-74 loss to Willmar on Jan. 7.

The Cardinals (8-5, 15-6) led only once, 37-36, on Mark Dunham's trey at the 9:15 mark of the second half. Willmar played its second game without top-scorer Taylor Filipek, who is out at least two weeks now with mononucleosis on top of a diagnosis of strep throat.

Rangy and athletic, the Warriors never stopped moving on offense or in their 1-3-1 zone.

"With there length they were hard to get by," said Andrew Bangen, whose three-pointer at the first-half buzzer pulled Willmar within a point of the lead, 29-28.

Brainerd took a 5-0 lead and Willmar was chasing all night. Willmar got the ball down low to post Brian Reeves, who would score Willmar's first eight points and have 14 by halftime. But the Warriors' defense collapsed on the 6-4 junior in the second half and he was held to two baskets to finish with a game-high 18 points, plus nine rebounds.

Willmar's Jake Rambow canned a three to tie the score 45-45 at 4:30 but Joel Martin sank a three-pointer seconds later on the way to a team-high 17 points. Reeves answered and it was 48-47 before the Warriors went on a 6-0 run for a 54-47 lead at 2:00 forcing Willmar to long range.

"We had to shoot (the threes) to get back in it," said Bangen, whose three-point make made it 54-50. Willmar had to resort to fouling the last minute and fell behind 58-50.

"I like the way we responded to (Filipek's absence)," said Willmar coach Steve Grove. "We played hard."

Brainerd 58, Willmar 52

Brainerd (6-7, 9-10) 29 29 -- 58

Willmar (8-5, 15-6) 28 24 -- 52

BRAINERD - 23-46 FG (5-11 3-pt); 9-14 FT; 21 rebounds; 8 fouls ... Scoring: Joel Martin 17, Kyle Crocker 14, Aaron Pavek 10, Chris Rud 9, Nick Belgum 4, Garth Askegaard 4 ... 3-point shots: Martin 3, Crocker 2 ... Rebound leaders: Askegaard 10 ... Assist leaders: Martin 3 ... Steal leaders: not available

WILLMAR - 22-46 FG (8-23 3-pt); 0-1 FT; 21 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Mark Dunham 3, Jimmy Unger 4, Jake Rambow 8, Andrew Bangen 12, Brian Reeves 18, Sam Esboldt 7 ... 3-point shots: Rambow 2, Bangen 4, Esboldt 1 ... Rebound leaders: Reeves 9, Esboldt 4 ... Assist leaders: Dunham 3, Unger 3 ... Steal leaders: Esboldt 2

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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