CM/Comfrey rolls past Cleveland to set-up rematch with Tigers

The magical run for the CM/Comfrey boys basketball team continued Monday night as the Cougars rolled to a 70-50 win over Cleveland to claim the Section 2A-North Sub-section championship.
The Cougars (27-2) – who set a regular season school record with 24 wins – will now face rival Springfield (27-2) for the Section 2A title Friday night at 6 p.m. in Mankato.
Springfield handed the Cougars their only two losses of the season, an 88-70 loss at home on Dec. 6 and an 87-71 loss Jan. 24 at Springfield.
After surviving a nail-biter against a sneaky BOLD squad last Thursday (85-83), the Cougars will now have another shot at their conference rival with a state tournament berth on the line.
“Springfield has a number of good athletes who will create some match-up problems for us along with their size and physical play,” Coach Brian Pendleton said. “We’re going to need our best effort for a full 36-minutes to get the win.”
Monday night in their battle with number two-seed Cleveland, the Cougars jumped out to a 32-21 halftime lead and would roll to an easy win.
The Cougars had nice balance across the board with four players finishing in double figures led by Dylan Hillesheim with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Needing just three points to surpass 1,000 for his career, Hillesheim did that early in the game to join the elusive point club as just a junior.
Wambde Diaz had another strong outing with 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals, and Eli Samuelson added 13 points and two assists.
Derek Pendleton finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists, and Lewis Pendleton had five points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Cougars were a solid 21-of-25 from the charity stripe and were 17-of-34 (50 percent) from inside the arc.
Earlier in the semifinals, the Cougars state tournament run appeared to be in jeopardy, as the BOLD Warriors (13-15) took a 44-30 lead into the half and would lead 77-71 with under a minute to play.
The Cougars, however, got a pair of huge three-pointers from Diaz to tie the score at 77 at the end of regulation, and they would hold on in overtime for the 85-83 victory.
Diaz had a huge game, knocking down six three-point shots and flirting with a quadruple-double before settling for a triple-double of 26 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and six steals.
Derek Pendleton added 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, and Lewis Pendleton would finish with 15 points and three assists.
Hillesheim chipped in with 11 points and six steals, Samuelson had eight points and four rebounds and Justin Lumbar had six big points off the bench and grabbed five rebounds.
The Cougars would knock down 16 three pointers and were 11-of-11 from the charity stripe.
“I think a lot of our success has been our unselfish play with four players averaging four or more assists a game,” Pendleton said. “We’ve also improved on the defensive side of the ball, and guys like Derek (Pendleton) and Dylan (Hillesheim) have provided leadership on and off the court.”
The Cougars and Tigers dominated the final Tomahawk Conference stats led by the Tiger’s Isaac Fink who averaged an impressive 23.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 6.4 apg and 4.0 steals.
Teammates Tanner Vogel (12.9 ppg, 3.9 apg, 46.4 3-pt percentage) and Kyle Meendering (16.7 ppg, 65.9 FG percentage) round out a tough top three.
For the Cougars, Hillesheim averaged 18.5 ppg, 2.6 spg and shot 58.8 percent from the floor.
Teammate Derek Pendleton averaged 16.3 ppg and 5.6 apg and Diaz added 11.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 5.8 apg.
Springfield – which went 16-0 on the way to the conference title – led the league in both scoring (84.8 ppg) and defense (53.6 ppg), while the Cougars were third in total offense (77.2 ppg) and second in defense (55.1 ppg).

Section 2A-North Sub-Section Title
CM/Comfrey            70
Cleveland                 50
Cougar scoring - Hillesheim 21, Diaz 18, Samuelson 13, D.Pendleton 12, L.Pendleton 5, Emineth 1