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Boys Basketball: Wildcats manhandle Cardinals in title game

New London-Spicer senior guard Adam Essler, right, stretches to keep the ball away from Willmar senior guard Tyler Stegeman to get a shot off during the first half of the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic championship game Friday at Willmar High School. A 19-2 run in the second half helped the Wildcats defeat the Cardinals 63-42. Tribune photo by Tom Larson

WILLMAR — New London-Spicer blew the doors off the Willmar Cardinals in the final stages of the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic championship on Friday.

Leading 44-40 in the second half, the Wildcats outscored Willmar 19-2 the rest of the way and snapped a four-game tournament losing streak to the Cardinals 63-42 at Willmar High School.

“They played very well,” Willmar head coach Steve Grove said of NLS. “They beat us in every facet of the game. They were physical, got the loose balls, and hustled. They deserved to win.”

The Wildcats improved to 7-0 and are now off until a Jan. 7 Wright County Conference game at Annandale.

Willmar saw its winning streak ended at seven games and is 7-3. The Cardinals play host to Sauk Rapids next Friday.

On Friday, the Wildcats led by nine at halftime but Willmar twice cut the margin to four points in the second half.

Then, the Wildcats exploded offensively and Willmar couldn’t keep pace.

NLS’ Brett Olson scored a game-high 20 points, Ryan Vraa had 12 and Shane Zylstra scored 11.

Tyler Stegeman led the Cardinals with 13 points and Adam Nibaur had 11.

The blowout win ended a string of tight tournament games between the two teams.

Before Friday, NLS last won against the Cardinals, who had won five straight Bremer Bank Holiday Classic championships, 79-72 in overtime in the 2007 Bremer tournament, six years ago to the day.

Willmar won the next four Bremer meetings with NLS by a combined 10 points.

Olson was named MVP of the tournament and also named to the All-Tournament team from NLS were Vraa and Zylstra. Stegeman and Benson’s Jacob Goff also landed on the All-Tournament team.

NLS 63, Willmar 42

NL-Spicer (7-0)  30 33 — 63

Willmar (7-3)      21 21 — 42

NEW LONDON-SPICER – 24-60 FG (4-16 3-pt); 11-16 FT; 34 rebounds; 12 fouls … Scoring: Ryan Vraa 12, Adam Essler 9, Jonny DeGeest 2, Shane Zylstra 11, Ethan Bohlsen 1, Brett Olson 20, Tyler Gislason 6, Nick Kester 2 … 3-point shots: Vraa 1, Essler 1, Olson 2 … Rebound leaders: Vraa 7, Zylstra 6 … Assist leaders: DeGeest 2 … Steal leaders: Zylstra 2

WILLMAR – 16-39 FG (3-16 3-pt); 7-11 FT; 33 rebounds; 14 fouls … Scoring: Jay Coquyt 2, Tyler Stegeman 13, Joel Carter 6, Dylan Schueler 5, Kyler Johnson 4, Adam Nibaur 11, Austin Grove 1 … 3-point shots: Stegeman 1, Schueler 1, Nibaur 1 … Rebound leaders: Carter 5, Nibaur 7 … Assist leaders: Carter 2 … Steal leaders: Grove 2, Carter 2

Tom Larson

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

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