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MW BASKETBALL: Minnesota West men fall in close game

WORTHINGTON -- Converting five steals into nine points during a three-minute stretch midway through the second half Saturday night, the Hibbing Cardinals opened up a 17-point lead and went on to capture a 75-65 victory over the Minnesota West Blu...

MW's Lesnar
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Bluejay Cory Lesnar draws a foul on Cardinal Rahmel Glover (1) as he goes in for a layup during Saturday night's Sixth Annual Sanford Regional Worthington Basketball Classic at Minnesota West in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Converting five steals into nine points during a three-minute stretch midway through the second half Saturday night, the Hibbing Cardinals opened up a 17-point lead and went on to capture a 75-65 victory over the Minnesota West Bluejays in the second round of the Sixth Annual Sanford Regional Worthington Basketball Classic.

Six players scored between seven and 17 points for the balanced Cardinals, who led 48-40 with 12:15 remaining in the second half and then led 57-40 by the nine-minute mark. Five steals -- four leading to coast-to-coast layups and one resulting in a free throw -- sparked Hibbing in that stretch.

"We turned the ball over far too many times, and those mistakes really hurt our chances," Minnesota West head coach Justin Heckenlaible said. "I was pleased with our defensive effort for the majority of the game, but we just didn't take care of the ball like we needed to."

Cory Lesnar led the Bluejays with a game-high 18 points, while Jace Jarmer added 10 points. Alexandros Papageorgiou scored eight points, and Monte Metz, Anthony Tomscha and Josh VanDuyn each dropped in six points for Minnesota West.

Also scoring for the Bluejays were John Jones, Bill Cloak and Ben Akoi with five, four and two points, respectively.

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Tomscha, Jarmer and Papageorgiou each scored inside in the initial 7:13 of the game, while Lesnar netted two free throws. Lesnar later sank all three free throws after getting fouled on a shot behind the 3-point arc to give Minnesota West its first lead (11-8) with 11:23 on the clock.

VanDuyn knocked down two free throws to give the Bluejays a 13-10 lead at the 9:01 mark. Hibbing, though, answered with six straight points and never relinquished the lead the rest of the game.

But Minnesota West kept the score close, as Tomscha dished to Lesnar for an interior bucket to make it 16-15. Jarmer and Akoi later sank a pair of free throws apiece, as the Bluejays were within three (22-19) with 3:43 to play in the first half.

Hibbing took a 31-24 halftime lead and increased the gap to 41-29 (the game's first double-digit margin) by the 17:35 mark of the second half. But Minnesota West countered with a 9-3 spurt to pull within six (44-38) with 14:03 to go.

A 3-pointer by Metz, an 18-footer by Papageorgiou and a 3-point play off an offensive rebound by Jarmer highlighted that run. Jarmer later scored on a nifty left-handed finish in the lane to make it 46-40.

Hibbing, though, scored the next 11 points -- including nine straight off of five steals -- to take its 57-40 advantage. The Cardinals' largest lead was 63-45 with 6:16 remaining.

Minnesota West outscored Hibbing 20-12 the rest of the way, as Jones scored on an aggressive drive and fired in a 3-pointer to give the Bluejays a lift. Lesnar scored off another nice pass from Tomscha, Papageorgiou popped in a 3-pointer, and Cloak added a layup for a few more highlight plays down the stretch.

Minnesota West (1-2) hosts Iowa Lakes Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

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Hibbing 31 44 -- 75

MN West 24 41 -- 65

Hibbing (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Glover 0-4-2-10, Freeman 1-5-2-15, Cary 2-0-3-9, Norman 0-5-7-17, Marchand 0-0-2-2, Edwards 0-2-3-7, Mastin 0-2-0-4, Ferra 0-4-1-9, Roll 0-1-0-2. Totals: 3-23-20-75.

West (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Akoi 0-0-2-2, Metz 2-0-0-6, Tomscha 0-3-0-6, Jones 1-1-0-5, Papageorgiou 1-2-1-8, Lesnar 1-4-7-18, Cloak 0-2-0-4, Jarmer 0-3-4-10, VanDuyn 0-1-4-6. Totals: 5-16-18-65.

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