Mar. 21—PRINSBURG — After splitting the regular-season meetings in the ultra-competitive Camden North, Central Minnesota Christian and Renville County West expected nothing short of a back-and-forth slugfest in Saturday's Section 3A-North semifinals.
After nine ties and seven lead changes, it was a 3-pointer by sophomore Ethan Bulthuis with 5:14 to play that gave the second-seeded Bluejays the lead for good in a 67-63 win over the third-seeded Jaguars.
"We knew this was going to be a battle and this was going to be the same thing with a higher intensity," said CMCS junior guard Case Mulder. "Down the stretch, we had huge plays from different guys. We played as a team, we made the extra pass and we got those good looks. ... Great team win."
RCW was a 75-66 winner over CMCS on Feb. 11 in Renville. The Bluejays got even with a 73-53 victory on Feb. 22 in Prinsburg.
After Bulthuis' triple put the Bluejays ahead on Saturday, RCW cut the deficit to two when Riley Ashburn drilled a 3-pointer of his own with less than 10 seconds to play. But CMCS junior Case Mulder went to the free-throw line with 9.1 seconds left and buried a pair of shots to put the game out of reach. Mulder went 4-for-4 at the line over the final 30 seconds.
"There's always going to be nerves but I've prepared for stuff like that all summer and all season," said Mulder, who scored a game-high 24 points along with six assists and three rebounds. "I'm prepared for plays like that down the stretch; I just got to be able to hit 'em. I give all the glory to God that we're able to get this win."
Shots for the Bluejays' perimeter players opened up thanks to a strong first half from junior 6-foot-3 post Caleb Vander Beek, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the first 18 minutes.
"Caleb really carries us in the first half in the low post," said CMCS head coach Ted Taatjes. "He was solid down there. We knew in the second half they'd adjust to that. ... We had a ton of guys step up and make shots."
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Jaguars head coach Matt Huhnerkock had to pick his poison: Let Vander Beek work inside against a defender one-on-one or throw a double team and leave a shooter open on the perimeter.
"We can't double on (Vander Beek) like I would've liked to because they have so many good shooters," Huhnerkock said. "We kind of had to live with one-on-one matchups with Vander Beek and he really took advantage of our man-to-man defense in the post."
Four of CMCS' seven 3-pointers, including both of Bulthuis' makes from the outside, came in the second half.
"Super happy for (Bulthuis)," Mulder said. "All summer I worked with him and we played basketball together. So it's huge to see him make these kinds of plays."
RCW had a 37-35 lead at halftime despite opening the game on a scoring drought that lasted 4:57 when Ashburn scored the first two of his team-high 21 points. Going 9 of 15 shooting (3-for-5 3-point), he also had 14 rebounds and three assists.
Tyler Froland also found his range in the first half with three 3-pointers. He scored 11 of his 16 points before the break.
"He's probably one of our most improved players this year; he's stepped up big for us," Huhnerkock said of Froland. "I think the guys were a little nervous to start but once the bugs got out, we were moving the ball well and getting good looks.
"But I have to give (CMCS) credit: they're a good team."
The Bluejays have one more Camden North test if they hope to repeat as sub-section champions. CMCS heads to Madison to face top-seeded Lac qui Parle Valley at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The two teams also split the regular-season series. The Eagles won 68-58 in Madison on Feb. 19. The Bluejays won the regular-season finale on March 11 in Prinsburg, 60-54.
"We know they're going to try their hardest. We've been playing really good lately and they haven't been playing the best," Vander Beek said of the sub-section championship matchup. "We're going to keep our momentum going and try to go right through 'em. They beat us at their place last time and we're not going to let that happen again."
RCW (13-6) 37 26 — 63
CMCS (16-4) 35 32 — 67
RENVILLE COUNTY WEST — Scoring: Brandan Hoberg 12, Riley Ashburn 21, Tyler Froland 16, Nathan Schmidt 7, Jaden Kolker 5, Jaden Serbus 2 ... 3-point shots: Hoberg 1, Ashburn 3, Froland 4, Schmidt 1, Kolker 1 ... Rebound leader: Ashburn 14, Froland 7 ... Assist leader: Hoberg 6, Ashburn 3 ... Steal leader: Hoberg 3 ... Block leader: Froland 3, Schmidt 2
CENTRAL MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN — Scoring: Ethan Bulthuis 11, Case Mulder 24, Blake Greenwaldt 6, Ben Van Eps 10, Caleb Vander Beek 16 ... 3-point shots: Bulthuis 2, Mulder 2, Greenwaldt 2, Van Eps 1 ... Rebound leader: Greenwaldt 9, Vander Beek 9 ... Assist leader: Mulder 6 ... Steal leader: Bulthuis 1, Van Eps 1 ... Block leader: Van Eps 1
A layup by Maverick Conn with seven seconds remaining put top-seeded Lac qui Parle Valley up for good in a victory against fourth-seeded Minneota in Madison.
Maverick led the Eagles with 24 points and six assists. Hunter Conn also finished in double figures with 10 points. Evan Hegland added nine points on three 3-pointers to cement the victory.
The Vikings took the loss despite the efforts of Jacob Hennen, who hit five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 38 points. Teammate Jacob Citterman had 10 points.
LQPV will host second-seeded Central Minnesota Christian in the 3A-North championship game at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Madison.
Minneota (12-7) 30 29 — 59
LQPV (17-3) 27 33 — 60
MINNEOTA — Scoring: Cole Sorenson 2, Jacob Hennen 38, Jacob Citterman 10, AJ Josephson 4, Max Rost 5 ... 3-point shots: Hennen 5, Rost 1 ... Rebound leader: N/A ... Assist leader: N/A ... Steal leader: N/A ... Block leader: N/A
LAC QUI PARLE VALLEY — Scoring: Landon Schirm 4, Mykey Elias 7, Kaiden Allpress 6, Evan Hegland 9, Hunter Conn 10, Maverick Conn 24 ... 3-point shots: M. Conn 3, Hegland 3, Allpress 2, Elias 1 ... Rebound leader: Schirm 8, Hegland 6 ... Assist leader: M. Conn 6, Schirm 5 ... Steal leader: Schirm 2, Elias 2 ... Block leader: N/A
Up by 16 at halftime, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa kept up that pace in the second half and cruised into the Section 5A-West championship game with a victory over Verndale in Brooten.
The Jaguars are the No. 2 seed in the sub-section. The Pirates are the No. 3 seed.
Kaden Pieper led a trio of BBE players in double figures with 18 points, followed by 11 each from Ashton Dingmann and Ryan Schwinghammer.
No player for Verndale reached double digits. Brandon Greenwaldt led the squad with nine points as the Jaguars' defense held the Pirates to 30% shooting.
BBE will head to top-seeded Nevis for the sub-section championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Nevis Tigers won their semifinal game Saturday against the Browerville/Eagle Valley Tigers, 60-45.
Verndale (10-10) 19 19 — 38
BBE (16-4) 35 34 — 69
VERNDALE — Scoring: Ben Brownlow 7, Dilan Orlando 2, Josh Johnson 7, Brandon Greenwaldt 9, Hunter Umland 5, Torii Hagen 3, Tyce Russell 3, Austin Ludovissie 2 ... 3-point shots: Brownlow 1, Johnson 2, Umland 1, Hagen 1 ... Rebound leader: Greenwaldt 10 ... Assist leader: Three with 1 ... Steal leader: Two with 1 ... Block leader: Greenwaldt 1
BELGRADE-BROOTEN-ELROSA — Scoring: Kaden Pieper 18, Will VanBeck 2, Peyton Winter 9, Ashton Dingmann 11, Easton Hagen 2, Luke Dingmann 8, Gavin Kampsen 2, Andrew Weller 2, Isaiah Williams 2, Alex Hofmann 2, Ryan Schwinghammer 11 ... 3-point shots: Pieper 2, Winter 3, A. Dingmann 2 ... Rebound leader: Kampsen 8 ... Assist leader: VanBeck 6, L. Dingmann 5 ... Steal leader: Pieper 2, VanBeck 2, L. Dingmann 2, Weller 2 ... Block leader: None
Top-seeded Morris/Chokio-Albeta got 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks from junior center Jackson Loge in the victory over New London-Spicer at Morris.
The Tigers are the top seed in the sub-section while the Wildcats came in as the fifth seed.
Thomas Tiernan added 17 points and three steals for the Tigers. Brandon Jergenson added nine points.
Brycen Christensen paced NLS with 16 points, seven rebounds and a block. Peyton Coahran hit five 3-pointers in a 16-point effort. Jaden Zylstra chipped in with 15 points.
Morris/CA will face No. 2 Redwood Valley for the sub-section championship at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Morris. In the regular season, the Tigers got the win over the Cardinals, 63-60, back on Jan. 26.
NLS (9-11) 29 28 — 57
Morris/CA (17-2) 30 35 — 65
NEW LONDON-SPICER — Scoring: Aedan Andresen 2, Brycen Christensen 16, Peyton Coahran 16, Tyler Danielson 3, Wolzen Holland 5, Jaden Zylstra 15 ... 3-point shots: Christensen 4, Coahran 5, Holland 1 ... Rebound leader: Christensen 7 ... Assist leader: Danielson 6 ... Steal leader: Danielson 4, Holland 4 ... Block leader: Christensen 1, Luke Wosmek 1
MORRIS/CHOKIO-ALBERTA — Scoring: Durgin Decker 4, Brandon Jergenson 9, Thomas Tiernan 17, Riley Reimers 2, Jackson Loge 25, Toby Gonnerman 8 ... 3-point shots: Tiernan 1 ... Rebound leader: Decker 9, Loge 8 ... Assist leader: Loge 5 ... Steal leader: Jergenson 3, Tiernan 3 ... Block leader: Loge 2
Redwood Valley 73,
Third-seeded Paynesville bowed out of the Section 3AA-North tournament following a loss to second-seeded Redwood Valley in Redwood Falls.
The Cardinals will face top-seeded Morris/Chokio-Alberta for the sub-section championship at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Morris.
Paynesville (11-8) 31 33 — 64
Redwood Valley (13-6) 32 41 — 73
Litchfield moved into the Section 5AA semifinals with the victory over Maranatha Academy at Litchfield.
Litchfield plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Minneapolis North. At stake is a berth in the Section 5AA final.
Litchfield is the fourth seed and North is the top seed. The Polars knocked off No. 9-seeded Southwest Christian 102-48 to advance to the game with Litchfield.
The fourth-seeded Dragons led 34-14 against the fifth-seeded Mustangs.
Avery Liestman led Litchfield with 32 points and seven rebounds. Ben Alsleben had 14 points and Tyson Michels 10 for Litchfield.
Jeremiah LaVelle had 20 points to lead Maranatha.
Maranatha (12-5) 14 47 — 61
Litchfield (14-5) 34 37 — 71
MARANATHA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY — Scoring: Isaiah Bluford 10, Bailey McDonald 9, Matthew Bluford 12, Anthony Lanari 2, Jeremiah LaVelle 20, Toli Legesse 8 ... 3-point shots: I. Bluford 2, McDonald 1, M. Bluford 2, LaVelle 3, Legesse 2 ... Rebound leader: LaVelle 8 ... Assist leader: N/A ... Steal leader: M. Bluford 3 ... Block leader: William Kietzmann 2
LITCHFIELD — Scoring: Ben Alsleben 14, Logan King 5, Tyson Michels 10, Avery Liestman 32, Alex Draeger 7, Beau Weseloh 3 ... 3-point shots: Alsleben 3, Liestman 4, Draeger 2 ... Rebound leader: Liestman 7, Weseloh 7 ... Assist leader: Michels 5 ... Steal leader: King 2 ... Block leader: None