At least for now, there's a sizable margin between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in Minnesota Class AA boys basketball.
New London-Spicer vaulted out to a huge early lead and never wavered in the second half, defeating Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta 89-68 in the widely anticipated duel between the West Central Conference rivals on Saturday in New London.
The Wildcats improved to 20-1 overall while the Tigers lost their first game this season and are 17-1.
NL-S took advantage of hot shooting and Tigers turnovers to build a 19-point halftime lead. The Wildcats hiked the lead up to 25 points early in the second half and the Tigers never got closer than 20 points the rest of the way.
Morris Area/C-A shot a solid 56 percent from the field, but even that wasn't enough to counter the Wildcats, who had five players scoring in double figures and shot 61 percent from the field.
The Tigers' Jackson Henrich had 15 points, while Aaron Johnson led NL-S with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
While both teams play in the West Central Conference, they are in different divisions. Neither team has an easy way back to a North-South conference championship rematch of last year's game.
The Tigers play at Minnewaska Area at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Lakers trail the Tigers by just one-half game in the West Central South race. Morris Area defeated the Lakers by 21 points earlier this season.
The Wildcats next play Albany on Thursday, Feb. 18. Albany, which also is ranked among the top 10 in Class AA this season, trails NL-S by one-half game in the West Central North race. NL-S won the teams' first meeting this season by 13 points.