BOYS BASKETBALL: Lancers hold off Bluejays 55-51
MARSHALL – The last time the Canby boys basketball team suffered a defeat, it was a home loss to Central Minnesota Christian School on Jan. 25.
Since then, the Lancers have won nine straight games, including a quarterfinal game in the Class A Section 3 North Tournament against Lakeview on Saturday at Montevideo.
Having advanced to the semifinals, Canby awaited a rematch with the Bluejays, who went 11-1 in their last 12 games.
The Lancers need all they had to shake loose from a persistent CMCS team, but Canby eventually held on for a 59-55 victory Tuesday at Southwest Minnesota State University’s R/A Facility.
Canby built a lead of as many as 10 points early in the second half, but saw that lead dwindle over time. Michael Slaba hit from a 3-pointer to put the Lancers ahead 55-48 with 3 minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the game, but the Bluejays wouldn’t go away.
Austin Bulthuis drained a pair of free throws and Nick Daugherty added a layup to cut the Bluejays’ deficit to three points with 2:20 left.
The Bluejays threw on a press and quickly forced a Lancer turnover. But Canby’s Kristian Leppke turned the tables and collected a steal of his own, ending in an easy basket from Josh Gallegos to push the Lancers’ lead to 57-52.
“Our lead seemed a little bigger than it actually was,” Gallegos said. “But when you looked at the scoreboard, we were only up by two or four points. They just kept knocking in buckets. Coach (Jon Hanson) told us to just hold onto the ball and waste some time. We were supposed to take easy layups. So, that’s what we did.”
With 1:02 left, Taylor Slagter hit a basket from behind the arc to pull CMCS to within two points. After a Bluejays’ timeout, Bulthuis swiped another steal and headed for the basket. He made the bucket, tapping it off the glass with great finesse, but was whistled for an offensive foul.
CMCS was forced to foul after the play. Zach Nuy went 0-for-1 on his first free-throw attempt with 33.8 second remaining, but sealed the victory with a pair of free throws with 10.4 seconds remaining to give the Lancers a 59-55 lead and eventual win.
“It feels amazing,” Gallegos said. “The fans were incredible and the atmosphere was just amazing.”
Nuy finished the contest with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Gallegos pitched in 16 points and three steals. Michael Slaba added 10 points and eight assists.
“I told our guys at practice that they are a lot like us,” Hanson said. “They have good shooters, every one of them. A lot of them score in the double-digits, like us. So, I thought we did a really good job, defensively, against them.”
Bulthuis and Daughtery led the Bluejays with 12 points. Matthew Van Eps had 11 points, while Slagter and Lucas Van Eps each added nine.
“I thought we did a really good job with them, up until the end, when they stole the ball a couple of times and got hot,” Hanson said. “But that’s what basketball is like. We didn’t panic. We kept attacking. We missed a free throw the first time, but came back and made the clutch free throws the second time. We got a couple of rebounds and steals that we needed. They did a very good job.”
Canby jumped out to an early 6-2 lead with a basket from Gallegos. But CMCS battled back to take a 14-12 lead on a perimeter shot from Matthew Van Eps.
Both teams continued to trade points until Leppke and McKinley Johansen hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Lancers a 23-18 edge. The Lancers stretched that lead to 27-22 at the half.
Canby advanced on to the Class A Section 3 North Tournament championship, taking on Dawson-Boyd at 8 p.m. Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University. Southwest Minnesota Christian, the No. 1 seed in the South Division, will take on second-seeded Ellsworth at 6 p.m. Friday at SMSU.
Canby and Dawson-Boyd are 1-1 against each other this season.
“We beat each other at home, but now we’re at a neutral court,” Hanson said. “We’re both tremendous teams that have a lot of respect for each other. I just hope it is as good as it was the last time we played for the (Camden Conference) championship.”
The Lancers won the last meeting of the two teams by a score of 70-63.
Gallegos said he is expecting the matchup to be a good one.
“They’re going to come back more ready than ever, so it’s going to be a good game,” he said. “We’ll be ready. Hopefully, our crowd stays the same and we come out with a ‘W’ again.”
CLASS A SECTION 3 NORTH TOURNAMENT
At SMSU R/A Facility
CANBY 59, CENTRAL MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN 55
CENTRAL MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN (16-7 OVERALL): Matthew Van Eps 4 1-2 11, Nick Daugherty 5 2-2 12, Ryan Brouwer 1 0-0 2, Taylor Slagter 4 0-0 9, Lucas Van Eps 4 1-1 9, Austin Bulthuis 5 2-12 12, Levi Post 0 0-2 0. TOTALS: 20; 6-9 (66%) 55.
CANBY (23-4 OVERALL): McKinley Johansen 2 1-2 5, Michael Slaba 4 0-0 10, Nathan Cooper 1 1-2 3, Zach Nuy 8 4-5 20, Josh Gallegos 7 2-3 16, Kristian Leppke 2 0-0 5, Nick Prokop 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21-48 (43%) 8-12 (66%) 59.
HALFTIME: Canby 27 Central Minnesota Christian 22. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Central Minnesota Christian 3 (Van Eps 2, Slagter 1); Canby 3-9 (Slaba 2-4, Leppke 1-5). REBOUNDS: Central Minnesota Christian 26; Canby 27 (Nuy 9, Leppke 7). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Central Minnesota Christian 14 (None); Canby 12 (None). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Central Minnesota Christian (Not Reported); Canby 12 (Slaba 8, Leppke 4). STEALS: Central Minnesota Christian (Not Reported); Canby 8 (Leppke 3, Gallegos 3). BLOCKED SHOTS: Central Minnesota Christian (Not Reported); Canby 2 (Gallegos 2). TURNOVERS: Central Minnesota Christian 13; Canby 6.