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Bluejays headed back to 'The Barn'

MARSHALL -- All season, Central Minnesota Christian School boys basketball coach Ted Taatjes said his team was in a hunted position. In the second half of Thursday's Section 3A final against Murray County Central, it was the Bluejays' turn to attack.

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MARSHALL - All season, Central Minnesota Christian School boys basketball coach Ted Taatjes said his team was in a hunted position.

In the second half of Thursday’s Section 3A final against Murray County Central, it was the Bluejays’ turn to attack.

A late 28-10 run turned a close game into a 72-51 rout, securing CMCS’ second-straight section title.

The Bluejays (26-3) open the Class A State Tournament next Thursday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Their opponent will be determined this weekend as the coaches from the eight qualifying teams will seed the top five entrants.

Taylor Slagter was all over the stat sheet for the ’Jays Thursday, scoring 23 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing eight assists.

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He scored the team’s first eight points and either scored or assisted on its first nine field goals.

Despite his early dominance, MCC was able to keep things close for a good chunk of the game, trailing by just 33-31 at the half and 44-41 midway through the second.

But the Rebels would get no closer, as a dominant showing on both ends secured another state trip for CMCS.

Matthew Van Eps, who scored 22 points, keyed the late surge, hitting four of his five 3-pointers in the second half.

“We just got in a rhythm and were getting easy buckets,” Van Eps said. “When you start hitting shots, it deflates a team.”

Slagter, who had a steal and slam in the game’s opening minutes, had another at the game’s close, sealing his dominant performance.

Though excited to go back to state, where the Bluejays placed third in 2015, Slagter wasn’t ready to make predictions as to how CMCS would fare in its return trip.

“I think we’re just going to go, play our hardest, and whatever happens, happens,” the senior said.

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The ’Jays also got double-figure scoring efforts from Ethan Brouwer and Tanner Stoel, who each had 11.

Knowing his team was going to get every opponent’s best effort, Taatjes said closing the game in such dominating fashion was a testament to how dedicated his squad was to building on its recent success.

“Last year was all excitement and joy because no one expected it,” he said. “This year, from day one, everybody thought they were going to take us out.

“But these kids never got a big head. They came to work every day and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

CMCS 72, MCC 51

CMCS (26-3) 33 39 - 72
MCC (26-4) 31 20 - 51

CMCS
Scoring: Matthew Van Eps 22, Ethan Brouwer 1, Tanner Stoel 11, Taylor Slagter 23, Austin Marcus 2, Tedd Ahrenholz 1 … 3-point shots: Van Eps 6, Slagter 4, Brouwer 1, Stoel 1 … Rebound leaders: Stoel 7, Slagter 7 … Assist leaders: Slagter 8 … Steal leaders: Slagter 3

Murray County Central
Scoring: Brady Woldt 2, Cole Bassett 13, Brad Schreiber 3, Jack Erickson 4, Grant Rohrer 24, Noah Lupkes 4, Landon Like 1 … 3-point shots: Rohrer 1, Bassett 1, Schreiber 1 … Rebound leaders: Rohrer 3 … Assist leaders: Bassett 2 … Steal leaders: Bassett 3

Related Topics: BBE JAGUARS
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