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Boys basketball: Waconia wallops Willmar

MANKATO — The Willmar Cardinals could hope for an upset but were overmatched when they took on Waconia at the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State University-Mankato Saturday evening.

Tall and rangy, the No. 5-ranked Wildcats never let the underdogs mount a serious challenge in claiming a 67-42 victory in the 2AAA semifinals.

The No. 1-seeded team in the section scored 13 straight points to stretch a 12-6 lead to 24-6 in the first 10 minutes.

The Wildcats led by 22 at the break, 37-15, and by 32 (52-20) with 10 minutes to play.

The Wildcats (23-5) were another of those teams Willmar (13-14) didn’t match up this season. Waconia scoring came from everywhere; six players tallied from 8 to 11 points.

Ryan Boll, Austin Fuller and Alex Chandler — each either 6-foot-6 or 6-5 — scored 11 points each. The next three Waconia scorers were each over 6-feet tall.

“They are very athletic and tall and we were bothered by their length and height,” said Willmar coach Steve Grove. “It was decided pretty early and everything we threw at them they had an answer.”

Kyler Johnson paced Willmar with 11 points with Dylan Schueler following with 8, Joe Leuze 7 and Tyler Stegeman 5. The Cardinals were outrebounded 33-22 and shot only 30 percent from the field.

The 25-point margin was Willmar’s most lopsided playoff loss since the end of the 1999 season when the Cardinals lost 80-46 to Sartell in the first round.

Of the Wildcats’ five losses four of them were to Eden Prairie (Class AAAA) and Delano (AAA), teams that Grove said have a good chance of qualifying for the state tournament. Waconia and No. 2-seed Marshall (26-2) will play Thursday at 7 p.m. back in Mankato for the section title.

Mankato East beat Waconia in last year’s section final.

Waconia 67, Willmar 42

Willmar (13-14)    15  27 — 42

Waconia (23-5)    37  30 — 67

WILLMAR – 13-43 FG (3-13 3-pt); 13-17 FT; 22 rebounds; 18 fouls … Scoring: Dylan Schueler 8, Joe Leuze 7, Kyler Johnson 11, Sean Zuidema 4, Joel Carter 2, Jordan Geurtz 2, Austin Rambow 1, Tyler Stegeman 5, Alex Grove 2 … 3-point shots: Leuze 1, Stegeman 1, Johnson 1 … Rebound leaders: Grove 7 … Assist leaders: Leuze 3 … Steal leaders: Rambow 2, Johnson 2, Leuze 2

WACONIA – 24-59 FG (3-12 3-pt); 16-22 FT; 33 rebounds; 17 fouls … Scoring: Ryan Boll 11, Alex Chandler 11, Austin Fuller 11, Jacob Herd 10, Matt Rachey 9, Josh Lenz 8, Avery Talton 2, Wylie Ferron 4, Johnson 1 … 3-point shots: Rachey 1, Herd 2