Rocori repels Willmar bid again, 55-45
ST. CLOUD - The flip side of March Madness is March Sadness. Every time, some team has to go home feeling empty. For the fourth straight year, Willmar got to within one win of the state tournament, only to go home with a section runner-up trophy....
ST. CLOUD - The flip side of March Madness is March Sadness. Every time, some team has to go home feeling empty.
For the fourth straight year, Willmar got to within one win of the state tournament, only to go home with a section runner-up trophy.
For the second straight year, Rocori takes the 8AAA prize back to Cold Spring after beating the Cardinals, this time 55-45 Thursday at St. Cloud State University's Halenbeck Hall.
This loss was especially hard because Willmar led much of the game, the last time 40-38 with 6:12 on the clock in the second half.
Rocori outslugged Willmar 15-5 the rest of the way.
"It hurts," said junior guard Kyle Townswick, whose 22 points led all scorers despite playing only 28 minutes due to foul trouble.
"Our goal was to get to state since the beginning of the year. Having it happen now two years in a row really hurts. Hopefully, next year we'll get over the hump."
Willmar played the aggressor both on offense and defense. It's full-court pressure was intense, leading to a 26-21 lead at halftime.
The pressure out front by Tyler Horning, Cory Hanson and Townswick, plus Matt Seehusen and Mike Dunham off the bench, led to an 8-2 advantage in turnovers the first 18 minutes. It also saw Willmar finish the half with eight fouls and Rocori just three.
Willmar would outshoot Rocori from the floor, making 16 field goals to 14 for the Spartans, but the Spartans were 25-of-34 at the line, while Willmar went 3-of-4. Fouls were 26 on Willmar and eight on the Spartans.
For senior Matt Roisum, the huge discrepancy was puzzling but he wasn't looking for excuses.
"We were trying to be aggressive," he said. "You can't blame the refs. There's things we maybe could have done better, like set screens and box out. You win some, you lose some."
Willmar came from 11 points back in February to beat Rocori 46-43, ending the Spartans' 25-game home-court winning streak.
"I thought we lost some intensity after we'd wrapped up the (Central Lakes) conference championship," said Rocori head coach Bob Brink. "But Willmar beat us. I thought we got that intensity back tonight, especially in the second half."
Willmar took the fight to Rocori right from the start. Consecutive three-pointers by Townswick and Ryan Hagemeyer, good for a 6-4 lead, announced Willmar wasn't tight but ready to play. Hanson sank a trey for a 9-6 lead and much later had a reverse layup for a 23-19 Willmar bulge.
With 10 seconds left, Seehusen popped in another trey -- Willmar's sixth of the half -- for a 26-21 lead at intermission.
"They had a lot of threes in the first half, taking advantage of our zone," said Rocori senior Chad Willenbring. "The second half, we went man to try and turn things our way."
"I thought the man (defense) changed our intensity and the complexion of the game," added Brink.
The 8-2 turnover count was reversed in the second half. Hanson made a great steal at mid-court, but missed a dunk and Rocori came down and scored at the other end.
Willmar's offense slipped out of gear the last six minutes, with Townswick's trey and two free shots all it could muster.
Willenbring, scoreless the first half, got 17 points in the second half. Aaron Traut, who had 10 points at halftime, finished with 14.
"I think we got frustrated (in the second half) at the way the game was transpiring," said Willmar coach Steve Grove. "We wanted to play aggressive on both ends and we got in some foul trouble, but we have a deep bench. We were doing a good job taking the ball to the basket."
Willmar made 10-of-21 three-pointers; its bread and butter this season.
Townswick's six treys gave him 93 for the year. Roisum and Ryan Hagemeyer (six points) had six rebounds each for Willmar and Roisum also had three blocked shots.
Willmar last got to state in 1987-88, losing to the Spartans in overtime. This will be Rocori's 11th trip.
Rocori 55, Willmar 45
Willmar (16-11) 26 19 -- 45
Rocori (23-5) 21 34 -- 55
WILLMAR - 16-42 FG (10-21 3 pt); 3-4 FT; 22 rebounds; 26 fouls ... Scoring: Tyler Horning 1-3 0-0 3, Ryan Hagemeyer 2-3 1-2 6, Kyle Townswick 7-14 2-2 22, Cory Hanson 4-10 0-0 9, Matt Seehusen 1-5 0-0 3, Ross Van Hauen 1-2 0-0 2 ... 3-point shots: Townswick 6-9, Hagemeyer 1-1, Hanson 1-1, Horning 1-2, Seehusen 1-4 ... Rebound leaders: Hagemeyer 6, Matt Roisum 6 ... Assist leaders: Hagemeyer 2, Hanson 2, Seehusen 2 ... Steal leaders: Horning 2, Michael Dunham 2 ... Blocked shots: Roisum 3
ROCORI - 14-30 FG (2-4 3 pt); 25-34 FT; 25 rebounds; 8 fouls ... Scoring: Garrett Branstner 2-4 3-4 8, Aaron Traut 5-9 4-4 14, Aaron Burtzel 1-2 5-8 7, Justin Stommes 1-5 4-4 6, Chad Willenbring 5-9 6-10 17, Nick Fabel 0-1 3-4 3 ... 3-point shots: Branstner 1-1, Willenbring 1-3 ... Rebound leaders: Traut 9, Stommes 7 ... Assist leader: Burtzel 2 ... Steal leader: Four players with one each