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Boys basketball: 'Jays leave feeling blue

MINNEAPOLIS--It will surely go down as one of the most memorable shots in Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament history. And it just happened to come at the expense of Central Minnesota Christian School. North Woods guard Cade Goggleye banke...

Curt Hogg / Tribune CMCS guard Jaxon Schwitters drives past a North Woods defender for a layup during the Bluejays' Class A State Tournament quarterfinal on Thursday at the Williams Arena.
Curt Hogg / Tribune CMCS guard Jaxon Schwitters drives past a North Woods defender for a layup during the Bluejays' Class A State Tournament quarterfinal on Thursday at the Williams Arena.

MINNEAPOLIS-It will surely go down as one of the most memorable shots in Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament history.

And it just happened to come at the expense of Central Minnesota Christian School.

North Woods guard Cade Goggleye banked in a 3-pointer from beyond half court at the buzzer to send his Grizzlies to a 54-51 win in a Class A quarterfinal on Thursday night at the Williams Arena.

Goggleye took the inbounds pass with just over three seconds to play after Bluejays forward Austin Marcus' layup tied the game at 51-51. Two dribbles by Goggleye and a prayer later, the Grizzlies were victorious and onto the semifinals against Goodhue on Friday. Once the shot went in, Goggleye fell to his knees in a mixture of exuberance and sheer disbelief as teammates stormed the court in celebration.

(Video of the game-winning shot here)

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"You just look back at the things you could've done in the previous minutes of the game where we took too quick of a shot here or there, or even just some free throws," Bluejays head coach Ted Taatjes said. "Those little things, one play changes that game. We have to give those kids credit, they hit some shots and that's the way it goes sometimes."

There are no X's and O's that can break down of the half-court heave that ended CMCS' memorable season. The best rationale? It's the state tournament, where crazy things happen.

None have been crazier than Goggleye's shot, although, just over 24 hours before, Champlin Park's Sam Dubois defeated Chaska on an off-balance, one-handed 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Class AAAA quarterfinals on Wednesday.

"That's just the state tournament," Taatjes said. "It hurts, but you can't explain it."

No. 3 CMCS trailed by four points in the final seconds before an Ethan Brouwer put-back cut the unseeded Grizzlies' lead to 51-49. Bluejays guard Matthew Van Eps, who scored a game-high 17 points, fouled out on the inbounds play, but Goggleye missed the front end of the bonus at the free throw line.

Both teams exchanged timeouts, during which Taatjes drew up a play to draw the defense to Brouwer, who scored 16 points, while Marcus slipped to the basket.

Tanner Stoel's pass found Marcus right under the rim and he laid the ball in with four seconds to play.

"There's a play we usually run for Matthew, but obviously he was out, so Ethan took his spot to draw the defense out and they kind of sold out to stop that," Taatjes said. "We got the good look inside and Tanner made a great pass. Marcus finished it."

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Following the basket, Bluejays guard Aaron Zwart contested Goggleye's shot at the buzzer, but it became apparent that nothing was going to stop it from going in.

"I still can't believe it," Goggleye said.

The Bluejays, who trailed by as many as nine in the first half and led by as many as eight in the second, shot 44.2 percent compared to 40.5 percent for the Grizzlies. Turnovers (CMCS committed 11 to North Woods' five) and an uncharacteristic rebounding struggle in the first half proved costly, though.

"There's a few things we didn't do as well as we needed to," Taatjes said. "We didn't block out well, gave up some offensive rebounds. That wasn't typical of this group, and then besides that, they hit more shots than us down the stretch."

Twenty six of North Woods' 42 field goal attempts came from behind the arc, as three players combined to take all of them and make 11. Tate Olson led the way with 16 points for the Grizzlies.

Four of those 11 triples got the Grizzlies back in the game midway through the second half after a Van Eps triple capped off a 8-0 Bluejays run to open the half and gave the Bluejays a 36-28 lead.

North Woods was held scoreless for the first 5:25 to start the second half before a layup cut the lead to six points. Olson buried three triples over the next four minutes during a 16-8 Grizzlies run to tie the game at 42-42 with 7:49 to play.

"We came out in the second half and made a couple of big shots, got the lead out to eight there," Taatjes said. "They slowly hit some threes and got right back in it. There are a few plays in there where I wish we could take it back and take our time a little more. Not that we wasted possessions, but we could've gotten an inside touch or a better look."

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Olson hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 3:07 to play to put North Woods up 47-44, but Van Eps stepped up and buried one of his own to tie the game just 18 seconds later. Brendan Parson's layup with 1:49 remaining capped a minute-long possession and gave the Grizzlies a 49-47 advantage.

CMCS will play in the consolation bracket on Friday at noon against Lake Park-Audubon at noon at Concordia-St. Paul. After the way Thursday's game ended, the Bluejays' resilience will really be tested, having to bounce back a day later.

"I got a pretty disappointed group of boys here, so we're going to have to try to regroup and get ready for (Friday)," Taatjes said.

Marcus and Stoel both scored seven points for the Bluejays, who were making their third consecutive state tournament appearance.

In the end, though, the third time would not be the charm-although, had the bank not still been open for North Woods, who knows what CMCS could have done.

North Woods 54, CMCS 51

North Woods (30-1) 26 28 - 54

CMCS (26-4) 26 25 - 51

NORTH WOODS - Scoring: Cade Goggleye 12, Brendan Parson 14, Tate Olson 16, Chase Kleppe 2, George Bibeau 10 ... 3-point shots: Goggleye 3, Parson 4, Olson 4 ... Rebound leader: Kleppe 5 ... Assist leader: Goggleye 7 ... Steal leader: Goggleye 4

CENTRAL MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL - Scoring: Matthew Van Eps 17, Ethan Brouwer 16, Tanner Stoel 7, Austin Marcus 7, Jaxon Schwitters 2, Aaron Zwart 2 ... 3-point shots: Van Eps 3, Brouwer 2, Stoel 1 ... Rebound leader: Brouwer 14, Stoel 7, Marcus 6 ... Assist leader: Van Eps 2, Brouwer 2, Marcus 2 ... Steal leader: Van Eps 1

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