MANKATO — One way or another, Ted Taatjes has been a part of every state tournament that the Central Minnesota Christian boys basketball team has played in.

Taatjes, in his 12th year as head coach, has the Bluejays back in the state tournament this year. It’s their fifth state appearance.

CMCS plays Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s in the Class A quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mankato East High School.

A victory enables the Bluejays to advance to the state semifinals at 10 a.m. April 7 at Target Center in Minneapolis.

CMCS has appeared at state in 1998, 2015, ‘16, ‘17 and this year. Taatjes also was the Bluejays’ head coach in ‘15, ‘16 and ‘17.

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“In ‘98, I was a freshman,” Taatjes said. “I was sitting on the bench, sort of like I am this year.”

CMCS plays a St. Mary’s team that makes its first state appearance since 2006. The Knights also made state in ‘98 and ‘05.

WCT Sports Show: Section Basketball Storylines

St. Mary’s (19-3) won the Tomahawk Conference with a 14-2 record, averaging a league-best 72.4 points per game. The Knights allowed 67.7 points, most in the conference.

Yet, Taatjes said St. Mary’s is disciplined offensively, almost deliberate. The Knights rarely take bad shots and have good scoring depth.

They’re led by Carson Domeier. He’s a 6-foot-3 junior forward averaging 22 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He shoots 52% from the field and 80.8% from the free-throw line.

Trent Steffensmeier, a 6-0 junior guard, is second in scoring at 17.1 ppg. He averages 4.5 rpg, shooting 46% from the field and 59.5% from the foul line.

Kalbe Wait, a 5-11 sophomore, averages 14.3 ppg and 5.2 rpg, shooting 49.2% from the field.

Kyle Goblirsch is St. Mary’s main man in the middle, averaging 6.8 rpg. He shoots 58.9% from the field.

Taatjes agreed that the especially competitive Camden Conference North Division helped the Bluejays in their Section 3A run and should help Wednesday.

“I hope it does,” he said. “It should.

“I think it did make a difference in the section final. We were down 11 (50-39) and came back and won. We didn’t panic. We still got good shots and still worked on doing the things we do.

“Our conference was really good this year.”

Central Minnesota Christian senior Blake Greenwaldt takes a corner 3-pointer in front of his bench and student section during the Section 3A-North title game March 23 at Lac qui Parle Valley. 

Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune
Central Minnesota Christian senior Blake Greenwaldt takes a corner 3-pointer in front of his bench and student section during the Section 3A-North title game March 23 at Lac qui Parle Valley. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

CMCS beat Southwest Minnesota Christian 68-63 on March 26 in Redwood Falls. St. Mary’s defeated St. Clair 80-67 in the Section 2A championship.

The Knights opened section play with a 73-60 win over BOLD. The Warriors were the only area team on St. Mary’s schedule, though the Knights beat Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart twice (67-54 and 74-70). They lost twice to Minnesota Valley Lutheran (65-56 and 89-70) and once to Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain, 64-55.

“Watching film, they (the Knights) are very patient with the ball,” Taatjes said. “They have six or seven kids who can put the ball in hoop and four or five who have been their leading scorers.

“There’s no one guy to stop.”

Taatjes said he plans to go with his normal starting five of Case Mulder (6-0, Jr., G), Mason Groen (6-1, Jr., G), Blake Greenwaldt (5-10, Sr., G), Ben Van Eps (6-1, Jr., F) and Caleb Vander Beek (6-3, Jr., C). Ethan Bulthuis (6-2, So., G) and Jeremy Brown (6-3, Sr., F) will be key contributors off the bench.

Everyone is healthy and ready to go.

“We’ve been real fortunate,” Taatjes said. “We’ve had no major injuries and everyone’s staying healthy.

“Everyone’s been real careful and staying away from social life.”

State Boys Basketball

Tournament

Class A

Quarterfinals Wednesday

N4-Hancock (17-5) vs. N1-Nevis (20-2), 5 p.m. at Perham.

S3-Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (19-3) vs. S2-Central Minnesota Christian (18-4), 7:30 p.m. at Mankato East.

S4-Hayfield (18-4) vs. S1-Legacy Christian Academy (20-1), 4:30 p.m. at Rochester Mayo.

N3-Badger/Greenbush-Middle River (19-3) vs. N2-Deer River (20-2), 6 p.m. at Pequot Lakes.

Semifinals Wednesday, April 7

(at Target Center, Minneapolis)

TBD, 10 a.m.

TBD, noon

Final Saturday, April 10

(at Target Center, Minneapolis)

Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.



Class AA

Quarterfinals Tuesday

N3-Fergus Falls (15-7) vs. N2-Annandale (18-1), 8 p.m. at Alexandria.

Quarterfinals Wednesday

N4-Moose Lake/Willow River (18-3) vs. N1-Minneapolis North (14-1), 1 p.m. at Osseo.

S3-St. Croix Academy (20-1) vs. S2-Caledonia (21-1), 7:30 p.m. at Rochester Mayo.

S4-Morris/Chokio-Alberta (19-2) vs. S1-Waseca (20-1), 4 p.m. at Chanhassen.

Semifinals Wednesday, April 7

(at Target Center, Minneapolis)

TBD, 2 p.m.

TBD, 5 p.m.

Final Saturday, April 10

(at Target Center, Minneapolis)

Semifinal winners, 3 p.m. at Target Center.