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Girls basketball: CMCS uses its defense to advance

Mar. 1—MONTEVIDEO — The Central Minnesota Christian School girls basketball team slowed down star Brielle Janssen and MACCRAY en route to a Section 3A-North semifinal win.

Second-seeded CMCS, which has beaten the Wolverines three times this season, held Janssen to 12 points in its 58-43 victory over No. 3 MACCRAY on Friday. The Bluejays play top seed Minneota in the Section 3A-North final at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday at Montevideo. The Vikings, who are ranked No. 9 in Class A by the Minnesota Basketball News with a 26-3 record, beat No. 4 Lakeview 71-47.

"I'm excited for the girls," CMCS head coach Brian Nelson said. " They worked their tails off tonight."

Janssen, a 6-foot sophomore forward, shot 2 of 19 from the field and went 8-for-13 from the free throw line. She had five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

But it wasn't just Janssen who was limited by the Bluejays. MACCRAY shot 25% from the field (13 of 52) and 16% from beyond the arc (4 of 24).

"Lauren Taatjes stepped up and played a huge game defensively," Nelson said of his senior forward. "Brielle is a phenomenal player and it's tough to slow her down."

CMCS' defense created havoc early for the Wolverines, who couldn't get into a rhythm offensively in the first 18 minutes. That led to a 32-15 halftime lead for the Bluejays, who held Janssen to a pair of first-half points.

"Our help defense was phenomenal," Nelson said.

CMCS sophomores Carrie Mulder and Emmi Braem clogged the lane and supported Taatjes, making it difficult for Janssen to find open looks.

Mulder, a 5-10 forward, played a key role in the Bluejays' strong first half. She scored 11 of her 13 points, including a trio of 3-point shots.

Sienna Duininck, a freshman guard, scored a game-high 23 points on 6 of 14 shooting, going 8-for-12 on free throws for CMCS. She recorded team-bests of nine rebounds and five steals, adding two assists.

The Bluejays' square off with Minneota for the second time this season with a section championship berth on the line. The Vikings won the first matchup 48-43 on Feb. 5 at Prinsburg.

"Minneota is so well-coached," Nelson said. "Al (Panka) does a great job.

"We'll see what happens."