Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.
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ST. PAUL -- The Willmar girls basketball team placed fourth at the Class AAA state tournament after falling to Grand Rapids 51-42 in the third-place game on Saturday at Concordia-St. Paul. Willmar was 26-4 overall and the Cards' fourth-place state finish is the team's best since they were the Class AAA runners-up in 2004. See this web site and Monday's Tribune print edition for more on the game.
WILLMAR—Everyone's heard the phrase "when it rains it pours." But for the Willmar WarHawks, Friday would be more accurately described as sprinkle to tsunami. Granite City ruined Willmar's regular-season home finale with a flurry of first-period goals and the Lumberjacks scored the game's first 10 goals on their way to a 13-1 victory at the Willmar Civic Center. The teams wrap up the regular season at 7:30 p.m. today at the Armadillo Deck Sports Arena in Sauk Rapids.
NEW LONDON — A big first half propelled New London-Spicer to an 82-48 victory over Montevideo in the Wildcats' Section 3AA opener on Saturday. The Wildcats' Brandon Adelman scored 18 points and had five rebounds and seven assists. Ryan Wyganowski and Tristan Thompson both scored 14 points. Montevideo's Isaac Hoogeveen scored 12 points and Cole Sandven scored 11. NLS plays a second-round game against Redwood Valley at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the 3A quarterfinals. Section 3AA NLS 82, Montevideo 48
WILLMAR — Willmar wrapped up a most impressive regular season with a solid 74-62 win over Central Lakes Conference rival Alexandria on Friday at the Willmar High School. WHS' all-time leading scorer Noah Slagter came through big in his final regular-season game, finishing with 25 points and 12 rebounds as Willmar erased a one-point halftime deficit with a 45-point second half. Drey Dirksen scored 11 points and had six rebounds, Cameron Murphy and Ryan Slette both scored eight points and Donald Jurek came through with seven points.
ST. PAUL - Three Willmar wrestlers will compete in Class AAA semifinals matches today during the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. Willmar's Israel Navarro won two matches at 120 pounds on Friday and will face Northfield's Drew Woodley in the semis. At 132 pounds, Clay Carlson won both his Friday matches by technical fall and will wrestle Stillwater's Trey Kruse in the semifinals. Cael Carlson won twice at 138 pounds and wrestles Anoka's Colby Njos in today's semis.
MINNEAPOLIS—Five Willmar gymnasts and a Benson/KMS/Montevideo competitor had top-25 finishes at the Minnesota State Gymnastics Meet's individual competition on Saturday at the Maturi Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus. Willmar's Lydia Morrell had the area's top finish, placing 15th in the bars. The Cardinals' Jolissa Lara had a 20th-place finish in the vault, and Kirah Kessler-Gross had two top-25s, placing 21st on the beam and 24th on the floor. Abigail Coquyt was 24th all-around with a 34.5375. B/KMS/M's Ahrndt placed 16th on the floor.
SARTELL — The Willmar swimming and diving team placed sixth out of eight teams at the Central Lakes Conference Championships on Saturday. Sartell won the meet with 516.2 points, Brainerd was second with 435 and Alexandria was third with 336.5. Willmar scored 211 points. The Cardinals' Garrett Shuldes had a fourth-place finish in the 50 freestyle and Mateo Marin-Mera placed fifth in the 100 butterfly. Willmar's 400 freestyle relay team also had a fifth-place finish. CLC Championships
Family, friends and fans of Spicer's Brandon Zylstra were thrilled when the news broke last week that the former New London-Spicer and Concordia-Moorhead wide receiver signed a futures contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Zylstra's phone surely buzzed constantly as kind words of congratulations and interview requests poured in. And it's good that people recognize the work Zylstra's put into pursuing his dream and that they wish him well. But now, while no one wants to rain on his parade, everyone needs to do an Aaron Rodgers and R-E-L-A-X.
NEW HOPE—The Willmar girls hockey team lost a heartbreaker, 2-1 in overtime, to Fergus Falls on Saturday at the New Hope Ice Arena in the Cardinals' final game of the Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper Tournament. The Otters' Sophie Rausch scored the winning goal unassisted at 3:33 of OT. Willmar took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Bailey Olson's goal at 14:29. Madison Garberding and Serena Monson had the assists. Fergus Falls' Chloe Nelson tied the game with a power play goal at 7:10 of the second period, and neither team scored in the third period.
Area prep basketball fans will have plenty of opportunities to see good hoops action this week as the girls Heritage Bank WildCard Tournament and the boys Bremer Bank Classic kick off at Willmar High School. See the area's full holiday tournament schedule on page B3. The Heritage Tournament features four powerhouse teams. New London-Spicer is 6-2 and ranked No. 18 in Class AA, according to Minnesota-scores.net's QRF rankings. The Wildcats take on Minnehaha Academy at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Minnehaha is 5-3 and ranked No. 10 in Class AA QRF.