MARSHALL — That championship experience has kept Central Minnesota Christian calm.
Leading 38-26 at halftime against Dawson-Boyd, the Blackjacks overcame that deficit, bringing it down to five with just under nine minutes to play.
Through it all, the Bluejays never backed down.
“We did it last year, so we knew how to do it,” CMCS junior forward Ben Van Eps said. “We knew there would be races; they were going to strike. So we just had to keep playing our kind of game. That’s what we did.
He never got closer. The top-seeded CMCS is now set to return to the state after a 61-52 victory in the 3A-North Section Championship on Saturday at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University.
“I was proud, just like (Thursday) night against Lac qui Parle when we were trailing by one point, the guys didn’t panic,” said CMCS head coach Ted Taatjes. “They stuck to what they were supposed to do. They understand that you’re not going to hit it all. Just do the next, do the next play and play to the best of your ability.
“I’m really proud of them. They hung there.
Seeking to go stateside for the sixth time in school history (1998, 2015, ’16, ’17, ’21), CMCS will take on South Sub-Champion Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in the 3A championship. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at the R/A Facility.
The Bluejays took a 16-5 lead early in the first half. The Bluejays balanced offense gave the third-seeded Blackjacks fits. Junior forward Ethan Bulthuis, who scored his 10 points in the first 18 minutes, was the first to step out.
“Ethan has been huge for us since maybe the second week of January,” Taatjes said. “He was very aggressive looking for his shot. And we told him that was what we needed from him. He’s added some dribbling now and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.
Senior Case Mulder scored a layup with a second from the left in the first half to give CMCS a 12-point halftime lead.
But, the intermission meant a halt to the Bluejays’ momentum. And Dawson-Boyd was able to take advantage of it.
“When you go into halftime on such a throw, the worst thing is halftime,” Taatjes said. “You would like to keep playing and not have that.
“Dawson executed some great offensive sets and take your hat off to them. It was a nice attack that they ran. And we were a badass coming out of the break.
The Blackjacks opened the second half with an 8-2 run, capped by a 3-point Keegon Wicht.
“We definitely didn’t play the first half that we wanted,” Dawson-Boyd head coach Cory Larson said. “But tell you what, the kids showed what great character they have. They came out and fought hard in the second half and found some rhythm offensively and started playing with a bit more determination and patience.
Wicht finished with 14 points, but was limited to four after halftime. 6-foot-5 freshman forward Brayson Boike helped fill that void in the second half. He had 13 of his game-high 21 points after the break.
“I really don’t consider him a freshman because he’s such a mature 15-year-old,” Larson said of Boike. “After a full season of games too, it’s hard to call him a freshman when he’s one of the key cogs in your team. He manages with a lot of composure. »
With 8:56 remaining, Carter Bowen of the Blackjacks scored a layup to cut CMCS’ lead to 46-41.
Needing to stop the momentum, the Bluejays relied on the senior trio of Mulder, Van Eps and Caleb Vander Beek. The trio has accounted for 14 of the team’s last 15 points. Mulder led the way with 20 points while Van Eps had 19. Vander Beek approached a double-double with 11 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Content to control possession time, CMCS made the extra passes to find a top quality shot. They finished the night shooting 47 percent from the field (21 of 44) and were 15 of 20 from the free throw line.
“Thursday against Lakeview they did a box-and-one and we kind of went over that in training,” Van Eps said, “but we didn’t think they would do that because we have such a team. balanced. And they didn’t.
“We kept moving the ball and everyone was shooting. Everyone touched the ball.
The Bluejays played RTR once in the regular season, earning an 81-70 overtime victory on Jan. 31 at Prinsburg. It was the second game of CMCS’ 13-game winning streak.
The Knights qualified for the division title game after beating Westbrook-Walnut Grove 64-41 on Saturday.
“They’re a good band,” Taatjes said of RTR. “They are deep; I think they play nine, maybe 10, so they are deeper than us. They will penetrate you a bit and try to speed you up.
“It’s going to be a huge test, but we have four days to prepare for it. We will be ready for them and it will be a great game.
Section 3A-North Championship
Dawson Boyd (18-8) 26 26 — 52
MCCS (24-3) 38 23 — 61
DAWSON-BOYD – Rating: Brayson Boike 21, Keegon Wicht 14, Aiden Swenson 5, Braxton Hahn 5, Carter Bowen 4, Collin Swedzinski 3 … 3 point shots: Wicht 3, Boike 3, Hahn 1, Swedzinski 1 … Rebound Leader: Boike 10 … Assist the chef: Who 5 … rob the leader: Five with 1 … Head of block: Boike 2
CENTRAL MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN Rating: Case Mulder 20, Ben Van Eps 19, Caleb Vander Beek 11, Ethan Bulthuis 10, Brayden Marcus 1 … 3 point shots: Bulthuis 2, Mulder 1, Van Eps 1 … Rebound Leader: Vander Beck 8 … Assist the chef: Marcus 3 … rob the leader: Four with 1 … Head of block: Vander Beck 2
Section 3AA-North Championship
Morris/Chokio-Alberta is closing in on a second consecutive Section 3AA Championship after defeating the Midwest Region in the Subsection North Championship at the R/A Facility in Marshall.
Jackson Loge finished with a double-double for the Tigers. The Augustana University commitment scored 35 points (on 14 of 15 shooting) while grabbing 15 rebounds. He also had six blocks and five assists. Brandon Jergenson followed with 11 points while Cole Wente fired 10 points.
As a team, Morris/CA shot 69% from the field (33 of 48).
The Tigers will face 3AA-South champion Redwood Valley at 8 p.m. Thursday at the R/A Facility. Two seeds in the subsection, the Cardinals took the South after a 68-56 win over top-seeded Pipestone.
AOC (22-5) 18 31 — 49
Morris/CA (26-2) 34 48 — 82
CENTER WEST AREA – Statistics not available
MORRIS/CHOKIO-ALBERTA – Score: Jackson Loge 35, Brandon Jergenson 11, Cole Wente 10, Toby Gonnerman 8, Tyler Berlinger 6, Thomas Tiernan 6, Durgin Decker 2, Max Lietz 2, Sam Kleinwolterink 2 … 3 point shots: Jergenson 4, Tiernan 4, Decker 1, Wente 1, Kleinwolterink 1 … Rebound Leader: Lodge 15 … Assist the chef: Jergenson 7 … rob the leader: Berlinger 2, Wente 2, Jergenson 2, Gonnerman 2 … Head of block: Lodge 6