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Willmar succumbs to SC Tech

St. Cloud Tech's Scott Nystrom is double-teamed by Willmar's Jimmy Unger, left, and Jake Rambow in the second half Tuesday in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Sam Spaulding of Willmar shoots from the side of the lane during the first half to score two of his seven points as Trey Barber of St. Cloud Tech looks on Tuesday at Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals dropped their third straight game Tuesday night, but the outlook might not be all that bad, said Sam Esboldt after the 76-65 loss to St. Cloud Tech.

"This is as strong as the conference has been in a while," said the senior forward, who scored a career-high 26 points. "This will just strengthen us for later. Hopefully, it will help us go deep in the playoffs."

The Cardinals fell to 8-7 in the Central Lakes and 15-8 overall with three conference games left.

Tech stayed in the conference race at 13-2. The Tigers are 19-4 overall.

The Cardinals are 5-7 since getting off to a 10-0 start and earning a top-five ranking in Class AAA by Minnesota Basketball News.

Like Taylor Filipek earlier, Esboldt had been ill with mononucleosis and only got clearance from his doctor to play on Monday.

"I don't feel I played that well, but it was fun to be out there," said Esboldt, who previous high was 21 points.

Brian Reeves scored 17 points for Willmar and had nine rebounds. Filipek, who missed two games this month, was off the mark and made just 3-of-13 shots.

Both teams made nine three-pointers -- Esboldt canned six -- but Tech was more fluid around the basket. Though they lacked a big man inside, the Tigers outrebounded Willmar 38-23, including 15 offensive rebounds.

Scott Nystrom, a transfer from Kimball, hit three treys on the way to 23 points. Alex Hanks got 21 points and Tom Korf knocked down four triples and had 15 points.

SC Tech 76, Willmar 65

SC Tech (13-2, 19-4) 35 41 -- 76

Willmar (8-7, 15-8) 32 33 -- 65

ST. CLOUD TECH - 26-54 FG (9-24 3-pt); 15-21; 38 rebounds; 14 fouls ... Scoring: Kellan Euerle 10, Kevin Heysse 5, Alex Hanks 21, Trey Barber 2, Scott Nystrom 23, Tom Korf 15 ... 3-point shots: Heysse 1, Hanks 1, Nystrom 3, Korf 4 ... Rebound leaders: not available

WILLMAR - 27-66 FG (9-23 3-pt); 2-8 FT; 23 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Jimmy Unger 3, Andrew Bangen 3, Brian Reeves 19, Sam Esboldt 26, Sam Spaulding 7, Taylor Filipek 7 ... 3-point shots: Unger 1, Bangen 1, Esboldt 6, Spaulding 1 ... Rebound leaders: Reeves 9, Filipek 7 ... Assist leaders: Filipek 6 ... Steal leaders: Filipek 2, Spaulding 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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