Willmar gets engine rolling in win over Brainerd
WILLMAR -- Much like many of the cars enduring the below-zero temperatures outside, it just took a little bit of time for the Willmar girls' basketball team to get going on Thursday night.
WILLMAR - Much like many of the cars enduring the below-zero temperatures outside, it just took a little bit of time for the Willmar girls' basketball team to get going on Thursday night.
Once the Cardinals finally did, they didn't shut down the engine until coming away with a pivotal 61-55 win over Brainerd.
Led by junior Jordyn Swoboda's 13 points, three Willmar players scored in double figures as a balanced attack helped snap a brief two-game losing streak. With the win, the Cardinals improved to 3-1 in Central Lakes Conference play and jumped Brainerd for possession of second place in the standings.
"Huge win tonight for us in the conference race and our confidence," Cardinals head coach Dustin Carlson said. "We had a number of girls step up tonight off the bench."
Carly Wedel was one pivotal bench piece for Carlson. Wedel notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in more than 23 minutes. All of Wedel's 10 rebounds came on the defensive end and she added two blocks.
"Carly Wedel and Grace Marti were game-changers for us defensively," Carlson said.
The Cardinals found themselves struggling against the Warriors' zone and in a 6-2 hole just minutes into the game before unleashing an 11-0 run to grab a 13-6 advantage on a Wedel basket.
Sophomore Hannah Johnson, who finished with 10 points, hit one of Willmar's three triples on the night to build its largest lead of the half at 16-8.
A jumper by senior Heidi Sellman with 45 seconds left gave the Cardinals a 23-22 advantage at the half.
The Willmar engine was running smoothly in the second half, which utilized its transition offense in the second half.
"Hannah Johnson found Jordyn Swoboda a number of times in the fast break that gave us a huge spark midway through the second half," Carlson said. "Big win and proud of the girls."
The Cardinals jumped out to a nine-point lead, their largest of the game, and held on by shooting 12-for-14 at the free throw line.
Senior Kylee Heurung scored a game-high 18 points for Brainerd, which fell to 4-2 in conference play.
Following losses to Hutchinson and Sauk Rapids-Rice last week, Willmar was the third-largest mover down in Class AAA in Minnesota-Scores.net's QRF ratings. A win over a highly-touted Warriors team is a big step back in the right direction.
Willmar 61, Brainerd 55
Brainerd (8-5)................. 22 33 - 55
Willmar (6-5)................. 23 38 - 61
Scoring: Hanna Degen 3, Lillee Hardee 5, Kylee Heurung 18, Ashley Huber 5, Lexi Roby 9, Cara Helgeson 2, Courtney Russell 3, Name not provided 10 ... 3-point shots: Degen 1, Hardee 1, Huber 1, Roby 1 ... Rebound leader: Not provided ... Assist leader: Not provided ... Steal leader: Not provided
Scoring: Abby Berskow 2, Grace Sawyer 2, Kayla Rudie 4, Grace Marti 2, Jordyn Swoboda 13, Hannah Johnson 10, Cayle Hovland 8, Carly Wedel 11, Heidi Sellman 7, Brielle Thorpe 2 ... 3-point shots: Swoboda 1, Johnson 1, Wedel 1 ... Rebound leader: Wedel 10, Sellmann 8 ... Assist leader: Johnson 4, Hovland 4 ... Steal leader: Swoboda 3, Sellman 2