Willmar sinks NLS in final
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals picked a good time to pull all the loose ends together and play a complete game. A methodical offense plus an active defense combined to upset New London-Spicer 48-40 in the championship of the West Central Tribun...
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals picked a good time to pull all the loose ends together and play a complete game.
A methodical offense plus an active defense combined to upset New London-Spicer 48-40 in the championship of the West Central Tribune's WildCard Girls Basketball Tournament on Saturday.
"We felt confident coming in," said junior forward Kelsey Evans. "Our coach (Brad Atchison) told us we shouldn't be scared of them."
The Wildcats won the WildCard last year and were off to an 8-0 start and a No. 4 rating in Class AA.
Matching the Wildcats' sure ballhandling and ability to break the press and handle traps, Willmar (5-5) won its third straight game and its third WildCard title in six years.
Evans, a 5-8 junior guard, finished with 19 points, including seven of her team's first nine points. Briana Goldschmidt added 14, including two important three-pointers in the second half.
Willmar played both man-to-man and zone in a successful attempt to contain the Wildcats' inside threats, Renae Henjum and Karli Wendlandt.
"They seemed to play more zone than before," said Henjum, who was held to 10 points. "They collapsed really well whenever I got the ball. It was just good defense and they executed."
Willmar made half of the 36 shots it took. Importantly, they made 6 of 13 three-point attempts.
None was bigger than Megan Brown's 20-footer, after a pass from Jena Thompson, that reduced a 38-34 NLS lead to 38-37 with 7:00 left.
That ended a 22-8 Wildcat run to start the second half; NLS would score only two more points the rest of the way (Henjum's 12-foot jumper at 1:50 that reduced Willmar's lead to 42-40.
Willmar stalled it out with Goldschmidt and Mariel Aamot a combined 6 of 6 at the line.
Willmar asserted itself early zipping to a 24-10 lead, several times getting under the NLS defense for lay-ups. The Wildcats cut it to 10 by half, 26-16, and then started the second half with a 9-0 run. Goldschmidt banged a three to halt the charge momentarily but the Wildcats would surge to 38-34 lead at 10:10 when Atchison got a timeout.
"We just had to continue to be patient," said Goldschmidt, "and make sure we had someone on Henjum and a hand in her face."
Cassie Ziemer added 10 points for NLS and Brianna Jacobson five off the bench for NLS, which next plays West Central Conference and sub-section foe Albany on Friday.
Willmar 48, NL-Spicer 40
New London-Spicer (8-1) 16 24 -- 40
Willmar (5-1) 26 22 -- 48
NEW LONDON-SPICER - 16-39 FG (2-10 3-pt); 6-10 FT; 22 rebounds; 18 fouls ... Scoring: Kelsey Cors 2, Renae Henjum 10, Cassie Ziemer 10, Karlie Wendlandt 13, Brianna Jacobson 5 ... 3-point shots: Ziemer 2 ... Rebound leaders: Henjum 7, Wendlandt 6, Jacobson 4 ... Assist leaders: Henjum 4, Taylor Thompson 3, Justine Dammermann 2, Ziemer 2 ... Steal leaders: Ziemer 3
WILLMAR - 16-32 FG (6-13 3-pt); 10-13 FT; 23 rebounds; 13 fouls ... Scoring: Megan Brown 5, Kelsey Evans 19, Mariel Aamot 5, Emily Nelsen 3, Briana Goldschmidt 14, Greta King 2 ... 3-point shots: Brown 1, Evans 2, Aamot 1, Goldschmidt 1 ... Rebound leaders: Jena Thompson 7, Evans 7... Assist leaders: Evans 4, Goldschmidt 2, Thompson 2, Nelsen 2 ... Steal leaders: Brown 3, Evans 3