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Girls basketball: Thunder Hawks roll past Bluejays

After a slow start, No. 9 Montevideo secures a 63-32 win over CMCS

Montevideo vs. CMCS 112922.002.jpg
Montevideo senior post Avery Koenen makes a free throw during the Thunder Hawks' season-opener against Central Minnesota Christian School on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at Montevideo High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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MONTEVIDEO — After a slow, nerve-filled start in the first half, Montevideo quickly found its step en route to a dominating 63-32 season-opening victory over Central Minnesota Christian on Tuesday.

“I liked that the girls calmed down as the first half progressed,” Montevideo head coach Anthony Jackson said. “Once the nerves calmed down a little bit, we started playing better basketball. … Now the first game nerves are out of the way.”

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One Thunder Hawk who showed no signs of nervousness right from the get-go was senior wing Tenley Epema.

Epema helped her Montevideo teammates settle in by scoring nine of Thunder Hawks’ first 15 points. She drained three early three-pointers in the first half, finishing the half with four three-pointers and notching 16 points in the contest.

“It took us a while to calm down,” said Jackson, whose team is ranked No. 9 in a state Class AA preseason poll by the Minnesota Basketball News. “Tenley is a great shooter and has the green light while on the court.”

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Montevideo vs. CMCS 112922.004.jpg
Montevideo senior wing Tenley Epema attempts a three-point shot during the Thunder Hawks' season-opener against Central Minnesota Christian School on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at Montevideo High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
Montevideo earns season-opening victory over CMCS with 63-32 win.

Thunder Hawks senior post Avery Koenen returned to her dominant Class AA All-State and West Central Conference Most Valuable Player form from the 2021-22 season.

Koenen scored 28 of Montevideo’s 63 points,tallying team-highs of 11 rebounds, five steals and two blocks.

“(Avery) felt pretty comfortable down low. Once she calmed down and let the nerves pass by, I thought she really started to play,” Jackson said. “It’s not just her scoring, it’s her passing that’s underrated. When she balances her scoring with her passing, that’s when she’s most dangerous on the court.”

On the opposite side of the court it was eighth-grade point guard Sienna Duininck who put in an all-around performance for the Bluejays.

Duininck, who was on varsity as a seventh-grader, scored seven points and recorded team-highs of seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Montevideo vs. CMCS 112922.003.jpg
Central Minnesota Christian School eighth-grade point guard Sienna Duininck attempts a layup during the Bluejays' season-opener against Montevideo on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at Montevideo High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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“Last year she got to play with her sister (Coco) and others to get comfortable. She is a phenomenal player and will draw a lot of attention,” CMCS head coach Brian Nelson said. “She is going to do a lot of great things for us, so we’re excited about the future.”

Nelson is in his first year as coach for a young Bluejays team. There’s going to be a growing phase that takes place as the season progresses.

“We’ve implemented a lot of changes to our program. We’re changing the offense as far as it being free-flowing and not so scripted,” Nelson said. “We have a lot of new players with a new system, so there’s going to be a growing phase.”

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Montevideo returns to action at 7:15 p.m. Friday against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City at Montevideo High School. CMCS hosts Mayer Lutheran at 7:15 p.m. Friday.

“We appreciate the victory tonight and we did some nice things,” Jackson said. “The season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Hopefully as the year progresses we find our true potential.”

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Montevideo sophomore point guard Teagan Epema passes the ball during the Thunder Hawks' season-opener against Central Minnesota Christian School on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at Montevideo High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Montevideo 63, CMCS 32

CMCS (0-1)              15   17 — 32
Montevideo (1-0)     37   26 — 63

CMCS - Scoring: Carrie Mulder 9, Sienna Duininck 7, Lilly Mellema 4, Natasha Erickson 4, Lauren Taatjes 3, Morgan Groen 2, Avery Duininck 2, Carene Jean Louis 1 … 3-point shots: Mellema 1, Mulder 1 … Rebound leader: S. Duininck 7 … Assist leader: S. Duininck 3 … Steal leader: S. Duininck 2, Mulder 2, Jean Louis 2 ... Block leader: none

MONTEVIDEO - Scoring: Teagan Epema 2, Annie Marquardt 2, Taylor Viessman 2, Tenley Epema 16, Avery Koenen 28, Kiera Foley 10, Hailey Dirksen 3 … 3-point shots: Tenley Epema 4 … Rebound leader: Koenen 11 … Assist leader: Teagan Epema 8 … Steal leader: Koenen 5, Teagan Epema 5 ... Block leader: Koenen 2

Montevideo vs. CMCS 112922.005.jpg
Central Minnesota Christian School freshman guard Carrie Mulder dribbles the ball across the court during the Bluejays' season-opener against Montevideo on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at Montevideo High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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