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PREP BOYS' BASKETBALL: Eagles run past Rebels

JACKSON -- Travis Mattson was automatic from behind the 3-point arc on Thursday night. He also had remarkably good timing. Every time Murray County Central seemed to be gaining momentum in its Section 3AA South semifinal matchup against Windom, M...

Windom's Curt Nagorske
Daniel Kerwin/Daily Globe Windom's Curt Nagorske (4) shoots over a Murray County Central defender during Thursday's Section 3AA boys' basketball game in Jackson.

JACKSON -- Travis Mattson was automatic from behind the 3-point arc on Thursday night.

He also had remarkably good timing.

Every time Murray County Central seemed to be gaining momentum in its Section 3AA South semifinal matchup against Windom, Mattson was there to hit a big shot to keep the Eagles out in front en route to a 61-39 victory.

"We're sad the season came to an end like this, but we all played hard and that's all we can ask for," MCC senior Austin Scarset said. "Windom's a tough team, so give them props."

The game started in ominous fashion for the Rebels when Windom junior Lee Holt (15 points, six rebounds) put his team ahead mere seconds after the tip-off.

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However, MCC kept pace early on, taking a 6-5 lead 4:40 into the game after a basket by Sam Nysetvold (10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks).

Jake Holt (19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists) then gave the Eagles back the lead, but a basket by Chris Halbur (nine points, seven rebounds, two blocks) 5:55 into the contest had the Rebels leading 8-7.

That's when Mattson first stepped in.

Mattson (18 points, five rebounds) was given the ball at the top-right of the 3-point arc, lined up his shot over his defender and netted a trey to give Windom a 10-7 lead -- a lead the Eagles wouldn't relinquish.

It was the first of four attempted 3-pointers for Mattson, all of which found the net.

Mattson scored five of the next seven points for the Eagles to complete a 10-0 run that gave them a seemingly firm grip on the contest.

Windom led 27-17 at halftime.

The Rebels, however, came out of the break with renewed energy, narrowing the score to 34-30 on a basket by Trent Carlson (seven points) 7:25 into the half.

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Then the Eagles mounted a 19-3 run to once again take control of the contest.

"When we were down just four, we were in it, we were pumped," Scarset said. "Then they just hit shots and were getting rebounds. They're a tough team. They just pulled away like that. We knew they were going to go on a run. We were trying to keep them tight, but they kept hitting their shots."

Lee Holt began Windom's run by extending the lead to six points, then Mattson hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to make the score 39-30.

Windom head coach Tony Taylor then called a timeout to make sure his team was settled down enough to maintain its momentum.

"I think we tensed up there when they scored to make it 34-30," Taylor said. "I called timeout to just say, 'You guys need to relax a little bit.' You can't tighten up too much otherwise March madness is going to take over."

Jake Holt added six points during the stretch (including going 4-for-4 from the line), Levi Gotto (six points, three steals) converted a pair of breakaway layups and Lee Holt contributed a pair of baskets.

At the end of the stretch the Eagles held a 53-33 lead.

Scarset (six points, four rebounds) scored on a tip-in as time expired to give the game its final score.

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"I think our guys believed the whole time in our capabilities," MCC head coach Tim Bobeldyk said. "We knew that we would have to have a great game defensively and do all the little things right, and a lot of times we did. Those times that they were able to extend the lead we were rushing shots, we weren't getting those offensive rebounds, we weren't boxing out. Those little things come to haunt you at the end of the game."

The Rebels shot 100 percent from the free-throw line in the contest, but they made it to the charity stripe only once in the entire game -- 3:39 into the first half, when Halbur converted both of his chances after being fouled going to the hoop.

"I was kind of hoping to get to the line a bit more than two times over the course of the night," Bobeldyk said.

MCC finishes its season with a 12-13 overall record, with eight of the team's losses decided by eight points or less.

The Rebels will graduate three seniors -- Scarset, Matt Reinsma and Josh Onken -- but will have huge class of experienced juniors returning next year.

"They're going to be a great team," Scarset said. "They're going to be one of the top teams in the conference. They're going to be tough to beat. Other teams around should be looking up to them -- they're going to be saying that they want to beat MCC next year."

The win was a relief for the Eagles (22-5), but in light of the program's recent success, the pressure is on to progress much further than the subsection tournament and head to the state tournament for the second year in a row.

"Everyone was expecting it, so we had to play under a lot of pressure that way," Taylor said of the win. "Everyone's expecting us to go there, but you still have to play the game against teams that also want to go there, but have no pressure to go there. We tightened up there for a bit in the second half, but then we kind of played Windom basketball and broke the game open."

Windom -- the top-seed in the sub section -- will face No. 3 Jackson County Central on Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall in the sub-section final. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Taylor feels that his team's experience playing against the Rebels will set them up well for facing the Huskies.

"The next team we play is going to have a similar offense," Taylor said. "It was good to go against that."

The winner will then face either Montevideo or Redwood Valley in the Section 3AA final at SMSU Thursday at 8 p.m.

MCC 17 22 -- 39

Windom 27 34 -- 61

MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Nysetvold 0-5-0-10, Halbur 1-2-2-9, Wieneke 1-2-0-7, Scarset 0-3-0-6, Carlson 1-2-0-7. Totals 3-14-2-39.

Windom (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Nagorske 0-0-1-1, Riordan 0-1-0-2, L. Holt 0-7-1-15, Gotto 0-3-0-6, Mattson 4-3-0-18, J. Holt 0-6-7-19. Totals 4-20-9-61.

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