Curt Hogg and Jake Schultz
WILLMAR — For the second consecutive night, and just the second time on the season, the Willmar boys basketball team came up short. No. 5 Marshall blitzed the Cardinals on defense and turned up the pressure on offense in the second half to down No. 4 Willmar 76-62 on Friday night in front of a packed gym at Willmar High School. After a 21-0 start to the year, the Cardinals have dropped consecutive games following a last-second loss at Fergus Falls on Thursday night.
FERGUS FALLS—Undefeated no more. The Willmar boys basketball team suffered its first blemish of the season on Thursday night as a last-second layup gave Fergus Falls an 83-82 win in Central Lakes Conference play. The Cardinals led by six points in the final minute, but a pair of Otters threes and a turnover gave Fergus Falls the ball with 10 seconds to play. A layup with just over four seconds gave the Otters a one-point lead, and Willmar's final shot attempt was no good.
WILLMAR—Whatever it was that Dustin Carlson said to his Willmar girls basketball team at halftime on Friday night, it sure worked. The Cardinals (19-2, 9-2) rebounded from an up-and-down first half against St. Cloud Apollo (10-11, 3-8) by leaving the Eagles in the dust in the second half en route to a 75-50 win at Willmar High School. Hannah Johnson and Cayle Hovland each scored 16 points to lead the Cardinals, who remained one game back of first place in the Central Lakes Conference.
WILLMAR — The Willmar girls basketball team flipped the switch midway through the second half and erased a 10-point deficit to beat Fergus Falls 59-53 on Thursday night. Carly Wedel buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with just under four minutes to play and the No. 10 Cardinals (18-2, 9-2) continued to stymy the Otters (15-6, 8-5) the rest of the way. Hannah Johnson finished with 19 points to lead all Willmar scorers, leading the charge after Fergus Falls took a 47-37 lead with 9:17 remaining.
WILLMAR—Drey Dirksen picked a good time to have the performance of his career. The junior forward scored 28 points at a remarkably efficient clip to carry the Willmar boys basketball team for most of the evening, and Noah Slagter hit the game-winner in the final minute as the Cardinals improved to 18-0 with a 81-78 win over St. Cloud Tech on Monday. The lone undefeated team remaining in Class AAA, Willmar has done plenty of winning this season. They said this one still felt a bit special.
KERKHOVEN — Dawson-Boyd's Alex Sather reached 1,000 career points, but it was Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg that came away with a winning feeling on Friday night. The Saints used a second-half burst to pull away and down the Blackjacks 66-56 at KMS High School. Sather scored a game-high 25 points, including a 3-pointer in the opening minutes to eclipse the 1,000-point mark, as the Blackjacks controlled the majority of the first half. KMS trailed 32-27 entering halftime, but returned from the locker rooms looking like a new team.
OLIVIA — The recipe for success was simple for the BOLD girls basketball team on Thursday night against Minnewaska. Fast breaks and a fast start. The Warriors followed that plan, jumping out to a big lead early in the first half and cruising to a 65-43 win over the Lakers at BOLD High School. Known for its suffocating full-court press, the Warriors came out with a half-court defense that proved just as decimating, allowing just three points in the first 11 minutes of play.
WILLMAR—Performing without its top all-around performer once again, the Willmar gymnastics team stepped up on Tuesday night against Redwood Valley. The No. 2 Cardinals dominated in the floor and vault competitions en route to a 146.775 - 131.750 win at Willmar High School. Abigail Coquyt won the all-around competition with a score of 36.375. Kirah Kessler-Gross posted a score of 9.575 to take first in the floor and was followed closely by Willmar's Olivia Welsh at 9.474, Coquyt at 9.45 and Lydia Morrell at 9.325.
WILLMAR — If this was the National Football League, Willmar would have just capped off a perfect regular season. The No. 5 Cardinals boys basketball team jumped out to a big first half lead and held on from there, improving to 16-0 with a 73-59 win over Sartell-St. Stephen. With the win, Willmar maintained a two-game lead over St. Cloud Tech in the Central Lakes Conference. Noah Slagter scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, leading the Cardinals to a 37-21 halftime lead.
WILLMAR — They say all good things must come to an end. The Willmar girls basketball team had done its best to prove that statement wrong through its first 15 games, but its did undefeated record come to an end on Tuesday night. Alexandria erased a nine-point second-half deficit and fought through a physical contest to down No. 3 Willmar 55-51 in a Central Lakes Conference contest at Willmar High School. "It was a great battle by two really good teams tonight," Willmar head coach Dustin Carlson said.