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Boys basketball: Blackjacks get a rematch with Minneota

Mar. 5—MONTEVIDEO — The Dawson-Boyd boys basketball team is one of the four squads remaining in the Section 3A-North playoffs, which is made up entirely of Camden Conference teams.

The top-seeded Blackjacks, ranked No. 2 in Class A by the Minnesota Basketball News, continue their postseason run against No. 4 Minneota in the 3A-North semifinals at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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The matchup marks the third game between the two teams this season.

and got the best of

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"Both games we've been on the good side of it, but both games have been single-digit margins," Blackjacks head coach Cory Larson said. "Those types of games, it doesn't take much to flip the script."

Of the remaining field, Larson was "a little bit" surprised that Minneota is the fourth seed. MACCRAY is the No. 2 seed and Central Minnesota Christian School is No. 3. Both of those teams beat the Vikings in January.

"(Minneota is) a really good four seed," Larson said. "That's not to take away anything from our two and three seeds.

"You could make an argument for any of the three to be the two seed for that matter."

Minneota, overwhelmingly composed of upperclassmen, is full of veteran presence. Helping lead the way for the Vikings are seniors Ryan Dalager, a 6-foot guard, and Sawyer DeSmet, a 6-4 center.

"The Minneota kids compete hard," Larson said. "(The Vikings are) probably the strongest team, the most physical team left in section play.

"That always poses a little bit of a problem and that benefits them. As you get deeper into the playoffs, typically, the play gets just a little bit more physical."

Larson knows getting a third win against Minneota will be just as tough as the others, if not the toughest of them all.

"They always say it's tough to beat the same team three times in one season," Larson said. "They're well-balanced, both offensively and defensively."

Dawson-Boyd defeated CMCS in the sub-section final in 2022-23

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As the top seed, the Blackjacks have positioned themselves well for another deep postseason. Dawson-Boyd has a 26-2 record behind the likes of juniors Brayson Boike, a 6-7 guard, and Drew Hjelmeland, a 6-6 forward, as well as sophomore Gunner Liebl, a 6-0 guard.

"We're taking it one game at a time because it's not easy," Larson said. "The guys have done a good job all season of playing with composure and going out and enjoying and playing the game and hopefully that continues."

And while the north half of the section is deep, Larson also thinks the same of the south.

"Any of the eight could get on a run here and play well over the next two weeks," Larson said. "I don't think there's any clear-cut favorite. You might look at us record-wise but we don't feel that.

"We got to show up every night. There are no guarantees you're moving on to the next round."

After splitting a pair of conference games in the regular season, MACCRAY and CMCS will clash for a third matchup in the Section 3A-North semifinals.

The two teams square off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Montevideo. MACCRAY is the No. 2 seed and the Bluejays are seeded third.

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"I would expect we're going to see a lot of defensive pressure and we're playing against a group that plays really well without the basketball," Wolverines head coach Lucas Post said of CMCS. "It's a group that's playing really well right now."

The Bluejays' core has a good mix of veterans and newcomers. Some of the veteran leadership is from 6-4 senior forward Ryan Harrington and 6-2 junior guard Drew Duininck. Freshmen Asher Wierberdink, a 6-4 forward, and Eli Gerdes, a 6-1 guard, highlight some youthful impacts for CMCS.

"We got to take care of it (the basketball)," Post said. "You can't give a team like (CMCS) odd-man rushes and expect to keep up with them as well as they play in the half court."

As for MACCRAY, its roster is almost entirely built with upperclassmen. Two seniors helping lead the way for the Wolverines are Isaac Post, a 6-0 guard, and Sawyer Janssen, a 6-6 forward.

"Isaac Post — he's a handful," CMCS head coach Ted Taatjes said. "He's going to take a lot of our attention. Sawyer Janssen inside has done really well down the stretch. They got enough kids who can score, so we got to really pay attention to everybody.

"It's going to be a great game. It should be a good atmosphere."

, top-seeded Montevideo will look to continue to make its mark in the postseason against No. 4 Morris/Chokio-Alberta in the Section 3AA-North semifinals at 6 p.m. Thursday at Willmar.

The Thunder Hawks, who last appeared in a section championship in the 2015-16 season, are 2-0 against the Tigers this season.

and

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Montevideo has plenty of veteran leadership led by 6-5 junior forward/center Gannon Reidinger.

"We're hoping to put our complete game together," Thunder Hawks head coach Derek Webb said. "(The Tigers) are extremely tough. They got some really nice players in (Riley) Asmus and (Drew) Huebner and some role players too that do a really good job.

"Jacob Torgerson is going to have those guys ready to go and I'm hoping that we can learn from (Saturday), get better and be ready to go Thursday."

Three-seeded Paynesville takes on a No. 2 Eden Valley-Watkins team that made it to the Class AA state tournament a season ago in the Section 3AA-North semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Willmar.

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Paynesville split its season series against Eden Valley-Watkins, which ranks No. 6 in Class AA by the Minnesota Basketball News.

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"We're going to have our hands full with Eden Valley-Watkins because they're athletic and a talented team and very well coached," Paynesville head coach Rick Hendrickson said. "We've competed well with them and are looking forward to the challenge."

Hendrickson, who's team lost two key players to injury last season, is pleased his team is at full strength as it hopes to gear up for a long postseason run.

"Getting through this season was big just to stay healthy," Hendrickson said. "We're not a selfish team.

"No one really cares who gets the credit. We move the ball very well and we're pretty balanced each night."

The Bulldogs, who have eight seniors, are paced by what Hendrickson refers to as the trio of "BR" boys.

That is seniors Bryce VanderBeek, a 6-3 forward/center, Brayden Pung, a 6-1 guard, and Abe Brunner, a 6-3 guard/forward.

"They've been our best players and our hardest workers in practice," Hendrickson said. "They set the tone and they're very selfless. That's where it all starts."

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa earned the third seed in the Section 6A-South after a slow start where 6-4 senior guard/forward Luke Dingmann and 6-5 junior forward Luke Illies battled injuries early in the season.

Now, with a healthy lineup, the Jaguars will look to make a deep playoff run. Their postseason begins against No. 7 Benson,

, at 7 p.m. Thursday at BBE Elementary School in Brooten.

"We're just so proud of the growth and how our team has evolved to this point," Jaguars head coach Chris Anderson said. "Dingmann was our most experienced guy coming back and after that, we had players that didn't play huge roles last year on varsity. But we've had many guys step up as the season's gone on."

BBE, which is getting things done through trust on the floor, last appeared in a sub-section final in 2022-23. The Jaguars won the Section 6A championship in 2021-22.

"I really like how our team has bonded and come together," Anderson said. "I think that really shows on the floor. They trust one another. The ball moves all over the floor.

"No one's concerned about how many shots they're getting or how many points they're getting."

Anderson believes Benson is a lot better than what its 11-16 record shows.

Size wise, the Braves match up well with the Jaguars. BBE will have to contain 6-7 sophomore center Harold Habben and 6-5 freshman forward Lanadreon Goodwin. Also serving as the Braves' floor general is 6-1 senior point guard Blake Brehmer.

"(The Braves) play in a 2-A (West Central) conference," Anderson said. "They get challenged all season long, so they know what it's like to play high-level teams."

As for Benson, Dingmann and Illies, along with 6-4 junior guard Hayden Sobiech, are key matchups.

"(BBE's) very aggressive on the defensive end; they'll make you earn every point you get," Benson head coach Mike Felt told the West Central Tribune on Monday. "Hopefully we're ready to be strong and tough with the ball and get it to where we need to get it on the court."

Anderson added, "No matter what happens in the playoffs. I'm just so proud of who these guys have become."