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Boys Basketball: Willmar overwhelms Benson

Willmar senior center Adam Nibaur throws down a two-handed dunk for two of his 14 points early in the Cardinals’ 76-45 victory over Benson on Thursday in the opening round of the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic at Willmar High School. Tribune photo by Tom Larson

WILLMAR — The Willmar boys basketball scored the game’s first 15 points and never were threatened in a 76-45 win over Benson in the opening round of the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic on Thursday at Willmar High School.

The Cardinals won their seventh straight game, improving to 7-2 overall.

After opening the season 4-1, Benson (5-5) lost for the fourth time in five games.

The Braves play New Century Academy at 7:30 p.m. and Willmar takes on New London-Spicer for the Bremer championship at about 9 p.m.

Willmar has won the last five Bremer titles and the Cardinals have prevailed in seven of the last 10 Bremer championship games.

New London (6-0), a winner over New Century in Thursday’s early game, will be playing Willmar in the championship game for the 10th time in the last 11 years.

Against Benson, Adam Nibaur, Tyler Stegeman, Kyler Johnson and Joel Carter led the Cardinals’ charge off the opening tip.

They led 15-0 and, after Benson cut the lead to 20-9 with 11 minutes left in the first half, Willmar went on a 16-2 run.

“I like how we came out after a break,” said Willmar head coach Steve Grove, whose team last played on Dec. 20. “The last time we came out of a break we didn’t play very well. That’s what you have to do against a team like Benson. You have to get out on top and not let them get any momentum.”

Stegeman scored all 14 of his points in the first half and Nibaur had 12 at the break. Johnson had 9 and Carter scored 8.

Johnson led the Cardinals with 18 points and Stegeman and Nibaur both finished with 14.

Stegeman also had 6 rebounds and 4 assists, and Carter finished with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals.

Willmar dominated the boards, outrebounding the Braves 40-17. The Cardinals also shot 57 percent overall and hit 50 percent from 3-point range.

Benson’s Christian Larson scored 10 points and Alex Forsberg had 9.

Grove said he expects a tough battle against the Wildcats in the title game.

“They’re a good squad,” Grove said. “We’ve had some good games with them and in the last few years it seems like it comes down to a bucket or two for the winner. We’re excited to play them.”

Willmar 76, Benson 45

Benson (5-5)      19 26 — 45

Willmar (7-2)      47 29 — 76

BENSON – 19-49 FG (4-16 3-pt); 3-8 FT; 17 rebounds; 14 fouls … Scoring: Alex Forsberg 9, Zach Maurer 2, Nick Turnquist 2, Layton Connelly 3, Aaron Ahrndt 5, Ryan Hampton 4 Christian Larson 10, Jacob Goff 6, Logan Flegel 4 … 3-point shots: Forsberg 2, Connelly 1, Larson 1 … Rebound leaders: Goff 3, Forsberg 2, Hampton 2 … Assist leaders: Adam Lindahl 2 … Steal leaders: Turnquist 1, Lindahl 1, Ahrndt 1, Larson 1

WILLMAR – 30-53 FG (5-10 3-pt); 11-15 FT; 40 rebounds; 12 fouls … Scoring: Tyler Stegeman 14, Joel Carter 10, Brandon Wedel 1, Zach Radermacher 7, Josh Holtz, Dylan Schueler 6, Isse Ali 2, Kyler Johnson 18, Adam Nibaur 14, Austin Grove 2 … 3-point shots: Stegeman 2, Radermacher 1, Johnson 2 … Rebound leaders: Stegeman 6, Carter 8 … Assist leaders: Stegeman 4, Nibaur 3 … Steal leaders: Carter 5, Stegeman 2

Tom Larson

Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.

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