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Boys Basketball: Mankato East ousts Willmar

MANKATO -- Brett Olson poured in 28 of his game-high 42 points in the second half Monday to lead Mankato East to a 90-71 victory over the Willmar Cardinals in the Section 2AAA boys basketball quarterfinals.

Willmar led 40-36 at halftime with Jake Rambow scoring 14 of his 20 points. But the Cougars (15-12) scorched the nets in the second half, scoring 54 points.

"We just didn't get anything in our first five or six possessions (of the second half)," said Willmar coach Steve Grove. "They were able to close the gap and then take the lead. And then Olson went off and hit five 3-pointers in the second half and we were never able to stop their momentum."

Willmar (12-14) struggled over the second half of the season, losing nine of its last 10 games after an 11-5 start.

The Cardinals hit 11 three-pointers (in 34 attempts) against East, but it still wasn't enough.

Mankato East will take on top-seeded Marshall at 7 p.m. Saturday in Marshall in the semifinals. Marshall nipped Mankato East 56-55 in an earlier meeting this season.

Jimmy Unger tossed in 16 of his team-high 22 points in the second half for the Cardinals. He finished with four 3-pointers and also a team-high 11 rebounds. Rambow had three treys. No one else scored more than six points for Willmar.

Willmar led by as many as six points early in the second half before Mankato East began its surge and outscored the Cardinals 32-16 over the first 11 minutes of the second half to grab a 68-56 lead. The Cougars eventually led by as many as 23 points.

"We got some good looks, but we just couldn't get anything to fall in that second half," said Grove.

The Cougars cashed 19-of-24 free throws. Olson canned six of the team's seven 3-pointers. When Olson scored his 42nd point of the game, he had outscored Willmar 28-24 in the second half before sitting down with 2:45 remaining and the Cougars leading 81-64.

"We had seen Olson play a couple times before this and he never shot like this. Everything he shot went in. He really did a nice job coming off a screen and got some open looks," said Grove. "It was one of those where he could just feel it."

Brody Ziegler added 14 points for the Cougars. Brandon Kowalski had 11 points and Brandon Sedivy 10.

Mankato East 90, Willmar 71

Willmar (12-14) 40 31 -- 71

Mankato East (15-12) 36 54 -- 90

WILLMAR - 25-65 FG (11-34 3-pt); 10-14 FT; 30 rebounds; 20 fouls ... Scoring: Jake Rambow 20, Nate Esboldt 6, Mowlid Mohamud 2, Jeremy Schendel 5, Jimmy Unger 22, Alex Grove 6, Jake Damhof 2, Dean Stier 2, Austin Rambow 2, Ryan Halverson 3 ... 3-point shots: Unger 4, J.Rambow 3, Grove 2, Schendel 1, Halverson 1 ... Rebound leaders: Unger 11 ... Assist leaders: none ... Steal leaders: Esboldt 3, Unger 3

MANKATO EAST - 32-62 FG (7-15 3-pt); 19-24 FT; 27 rebounds; 12 fouls ... Scoring: Brett Olson 42, Brody Ziegler 14, Brandon Kowalski 11, Brandon Sedivy 10, Taylor Hayenga 6, Brandon Adema 3, Yasin Omar 2, Martin Stevens-Frederick 2 ... 3-point shots: Olson 6, Kowalski 1 ... Rebound, assisdt and steal leaders not available