SPRINGFIELD - Heading into Tuesday's Section 2A matchup with Springfield, Cedar Mountain/Comfrey already had its back to the wall as it lost both regular-season games in the series.
But as they say, it's always tough to beat a team three times in a season and that was the case on Tuesday as the No. 5-seeded Cougars pulled off the mild upset against No. 4-seeded Springfield 80-68, ending Springfield's season at 12-12.
Javin Larsen, who by far was the smallest player on the court, stood tallest in the end with 29 points. Chandler Rose and Brady Kerkhoff each scored 16 and Josh Green finished with 12. Rose also hauled in 11 rebounds.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Springfield’s Kale Meendering (25) attempts to block a shot from Cedar Mountain/Comfrey’s Brady Kerkhoff during the first half Tuesday in Springfield.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Springfield was led by Cooper Scheffler's 22 points, six rebounds and six assists. Tyler Vogel had 16 points and five rebounds, while Carter Erickson finished with 18 points and four rebounds.
CM/C (14-12) will face No. 1-seed Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, which defeated Sleepy Eye 85-54, at 6 p.m. Friday in Le Sueur.
The Cougars wanted to make sure they shut down Vogel. While he did finish with 16 points, he wasn't able to dominate.
"Just shut down [Vogel] and not turn the ball over," Kerkhoff said of the game plan.
While the Cougars led for a majority of the first half, it was Kerkhoff who hit a big 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded that upped CM/C's lead to 44-32. That seemed to be a sign of things to come as the Cougars didn't turn the ball over in the second half and held the lead the rest of the way.
"I think we had momentum going into the second half, but that was icing on the cake," Kerkhoff said.
While Kerkhoff's buzzer beater certainly was big in the first half, Larsen's driving and penetration caused fits for the Tigers in the second half.
"It was nice to see, they've worked hard all year and obviously they've gotten better and better as the season goes on," CM/C coach Brian Pendleton said of Larsen and Kerkhoff. "I think especially down the stretch, there was a lot of pressure there and they stayed poised and I'm very proud of them for that."
The Tigers pressured the Cougars in the second half, but Larsen was able to break the press and that led to some easy baskets.
"Larsen did a real nice job of handling the ball and he played very well for them tonight," Tigers coach Lance Larson said. "We weren't able to get them to turn the ball over and they played very well defensively."
The Cougars held a double-digit lead for pretty much all of the second half. Their biggest lead came when Larsen completed a three-point play with 7 minutes left in the game, giving CM/C a 65-45 advantage.
Now the Cougars get top-seeded A-C-GC. For coach Pendleton's team, it doesn't seem to matter who they face because they've been the underdogs before and have done just fine.
"I think our guys are playing with more confidence right now, whoever it is is going to get our best effort," Pendleton said.