Section 3A South boys basketball final: MCC wins a thriller in OT
MARSHALL — Murray County Central rallied several times Friday evening at the tournament-rich RA Facility on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University, but the scrappy-playing Southwest Minnesota Christian Eagles responded time after time and continued to hold the upper hand in a classic battle for the Section 3A South high school boys basketball championship.
The well-played contest kept fans on the edge of their seats for the entire game and after a pair of lead changes in the closing minutes, ended up knotted up at 72-72 when the final horn sounded.
MCC, the sub-section’s top-seed, prevailed in the extra four minutes as junior guard Cole Bassett scored nine of his game-high 37 points in the overtime and the Rebels claimed a hard-fought victory by a final score of 84-75.
It was MCC’s first sub-section title since 1994 when Rebels head coach Tim Bobeldyk was a freshman reserve for the recently-formed combination of Slayton, Chandler and Lake Wilson.
Improving to 26-3 on the season, the senior-loaded Rebels are a game away from advancing to the state tournament. Standing in the way are the Central Minnesota Christian Bluejays, the top seed in Section 3A North. CMC defeated Dawson-Boyd 80-52 in Friday’s second sub-section championship game.
The title game will be played March 3 at the RA with an 8 p.m. tipoff.
“The guys didn’t want the season to end here,” said Bobeldyk afterwards. “Southwest came out hot and really played well. We needed to stay patient and not get rattled. We had better offensive possessions in the second half and got more defensive stops. If we could do those two things more often than not, we could eventually catch up.”
Catch up is what the Rebels needed to do. But that was easier said than done.
Southwest Christian, which finished another remarkable season with an overall record of 15-11, played exceptional basketball most of the night.
The Eagles, in fact, sank eight three-point baskets — spread among four players — in the first half as they built impressive leads of 7-1, 15-4, 19-11 and 34-18 before taking a 42-31 advantage into intermission.
Leading that barrage of three-pointers was 5-10 junior guard Jeremy Vander Woude, who finished the game with 24 points and six assists. Vander Woude connected three times from behind the arc in each half, drilling a clutch long-range shot several times after the Rebels had put on a spurt and sliced into SWC’s lead.
Back-to-back triples by Vander Woude squelched a 7-0 MCC run and stretched a 19-18 edge to a 25-18 lead. Making the extra pass, Vander Woude then found Colby Den Herder for a left-corner trey and then took a pass from Jordan Ward and knocked down another high-arching long bomb. That 12-0 surge made the score 31-18 with 5:09 left in the first half.
SWC’s three-point shooting clinic wasn’t finished yet as Jared Vis took a pass from Logan Walhof (seven assists) and gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the game, 34-18.
Bassett, who displayed blazing speed after coming up with steals, broke MCCs three-minute scoring drought with his first three-pointer of the game and the two Red Rock Conference rivals began exchanging points the rest of the half.
Vander Woude connected on a mid-range driving jump shot with 1:20 left, giving the Eagles a 40-27 cushion, but baskets by Bassett and Grant Rohrer (24 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks) offset an Eagles bucket by A.J. Vanderby (assist Walhoff).
Jordan Ward had sparked an early SWC surge with back-to-back three-pointers in an 18-second span soon after entering the game at the 13:58 mark, netting his first one off a nice pass from Dalton Vis.
“We had a lot of guys contribute and we really played well, shooting the ball very well,” praised SWC head coach Jamie Pap. “Both teams battled hard. It was a great high school basketball game.”
Second-half action starts fast; Bassett heats up for Rebels
Bassett, who scored just seven points in the first half, opened the second half with a three-pointer, but Vander Woude quickly answered with another one for the Eagles as the long-range shots continued to fall.
Bassett drove to the hoop hard and converted a three-point play and then Rohrer received a breakaway pass from Noah Lupkes and his slam dunk at the 16:39 mark closed the gap to 45-39 and electrified the huge MCC rooting section.
Jared Vis, however, nailed a quick three-pointer (assist Jeremy Vander Woude) and SWC was back up nine. Bassett countered with another triple and then converted a four-point play when he was fouled on three-pointer after taking a pass from Jack Erickson.
That sequence gave Bassett 13 points in the first 3:08 of the second half and brought the Rebels to within two, 48-46.
A pick-and-roll from Walhof to Levi Vander Woude was countered by a three-point play by Erickson and MCC trailed by just one, 50-49.
Ward’s third three-pointer of the night and Jeremy Vander Woude’s fourth pushed the Eagles’ lead to seven (56-49) with 13 minutes remaining. It was a 10-point edge just a bit later when Den Herder banked in a trey.
Bassett responded again with a three and then led Erickson with a pass for a layup, slicing the gap to five. A beautiful long bounce pass from Jeremy Vander Woude to Jared Vis made the score 61-55 with 9:32 on the clock.
Rohrer scored on a drive, which was countered by Levi Vander Woude’s inside basket (assist Ward) before Rohrer scored again (assist Landon Like). Ward slipped a slick pass to Levi Vander Woude and with 7:28 left, it was 65-59.
After a free throw by Bassett, Erickson — who was honored prior to the game as Section 3A’sTriple A award winner — tossed one of his game-high eight assists to Bassett for another three-pointer. Thirty-six seconds later, Rohrer scored inside and for the first time all night, the score was tied -— 65-65 with 5:12 left.
Then, it happened again.
Jeremy Vander Woude connected on closely-contested three-pointer — his fifth of the game — and the Eagles had the lead again.
Lupkes rebound bucket gives Rebels the lead
Erickson found Rohrer with a lob pass inside and after a missed shot by the Eagles, Lupkes putback an offensive rebound and with 4:05 on the clock, the Rebels led for the first time all game, 69-68.
Lupkes scored again (assist Bassett) and MCC was up 71-68. A big-time steal and layup by Ward brought the Eagles back to within a point (71-70) with 1:45 left. Neither team scored again until Levi Vander Woude (10 points, game-high 11 rebounds) scored on a rebound off a missed Eagle free throw with 23 seconds to play.
Bassett was fouled twice in the remaining time and made one-of-three from the line (he tied the game with seven seconds left). The Eagles were not able to get a shot off as Bassett came up with his fourth steal of the game, sending the contest to overtime.
Rebels gain control in extra four minutes
Bassett opened the overtime scoring with a bank shot off the glass. Jeremy Vander Woude knotted the score with a baseline floater, but Bassett’s seventh three-pointer of night gave the Rebels the lead for keeps.
A Rohrer putback made it 79-74 with 1:19 left and four Bassett free throws, along with one by Lupkes offset an Eagles’ free throw by Vis as the Rebels stretched the final margin to nine points.
MCC shot 53.8 percent from the field (31-of-58), making 23-of-35 two-pointers (65.7 percent) and eight-of-23 from behind the arc (34.8 percent). The Rebels were only two-of-13 on three-point shot in the first half.
The Eagles were a red-hot eight-of-14 from behind the line in the first half, finishing 14-of-26 for the game. They were 16-of-31 on two-point field goals, going 30-of 57 overall from the field, but were just one-of-seven at the free throw line.
MCC was 14-of-22 at the free throw stripe, including an eight-of-12 performance by Bassett.
SWC 42 72 75
MCC 31 72 84
SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Walhof 0-2-0-4, J. Vander Woude 6-3-0-24, J. Vis 2-1-1-9, Ward 3-2-0-13, Den Herder 3-1-0-11, Vanderby 0-2-0-4, L. Vander Woude 0-5-0-10. Totals 14-16-1-75.
MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Like 0-1-1-3, Bassett 7-4-8-37, Schreiber 1-1-0-5, Erickson 0-2-1-5, Rohrer 0-11-2-24, K. Johnson 0-0-1-1, Lupkes 0-4-1-9. Totals 8-23-14-84.