Area Boys Basketball: Rangers withstand cold shooting, Pillager
Crosby-Ironton 61, Pillager 51 Key: The Rangers' Noah Gindorff finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds Overall: CI 25-2, Pill 16-11 Next: C-I vs. Hinckley-Finlayson in Section 7-2A quarterfinals at Duluth Denfeld 1 p.m. Saturday. CROSBY--Four day...
Crosby-Ironton 61, Pillager 51
Key: The Rangers' Noah Gindorff finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds
Overall: CI 25-2, Pill 16-11
Next: C-I vs. Hinckley-Finlayson in Section 7-2A quarterfinals at Duluth Denfeld 1 p.m. Saturday.
CROSBY-Four days were spent trying to figure out how to defend Noah Gindorff.
The 6-foot-6 athletic post for the Crosby-Ironton Rangers is worthy of the special attention and he proved it Thursday as he posted 23 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and three steals to lead the No. 2-seeded Rangers to a 61-51 victory over No. 7-seeded Pillager Huskies in the Section 7-2A opening round.
"We made a lot of adjustments from the last time we played them," said Pillager head coach Eric Uselman. "We practiced for about the last four days on nothing but how we were going to physically play Gindorff. I thought the guys did a really nice job of that. He's a big dude and he can jump. That's the worst part. Not only is he bigger than anybody, but he can jump just as high or higher.
"We mixed it up against him and I thought we did a nice job. We got him into foul trouble, which doesn't happen very often."
The senior was efficient, however, as he shot 9-of-11 from the field and 5-6 from the line. It was a good thing as C-I shot 35 percent (20-of-57) from the field-a far cry from Jan. 20, when the Rangers topped Pillager 71-42. In that game, C-I shot 70 percent from the field, including 6-of-10 from 3-point. The Rangers were 4-of-23 from 3-point Thursday.
"It's very common in section play not to hit your average from the field, but it was pretty uncharacteristic for us to go 4-of-23 from the 3-point line," said C-I head coach Dave Galovich "Of the 23 shots, I don't know if there was a bad one. We have to knock some of those shots down to be successful.
"We ran our offense pretty well. The shots we took, I thought, were good shots. We wanted our guys to keep shooting and then (Pillager) would come back and they would make plays. I thought Pillager played a great game and I was expecting that they would."
Despite C-I's shooting problems, the Huskies struggled cutting into C-I's 10- to-12 point lead, which it maintained for almost the entire second half. That was until Gindorff picked up his fourth foul with 9:32 remaining and sat. Pillager capitalized and turned a 45-32 C-I lead into 49-43 edge as senior Ridge Hunstad drained three of his team-high 20 points.
"I was just thinking we have to make a run right here," Uselman said. "I think we were still down eight or nine when I called timeout and I said, 'Listen, guys, you're going to have three maybe five minutes tops.' I didn't know for sure when (Galovich) would bring him back in and I guess it all depended when that lead went to six, I think.
"I just told them we had to make sure we made a little run because it changed the world for us. (Ryan) Foehrenbacher had his way down there once Gindorff was out. Unfortunately we didn't quite chop off enough, but I'm really proud of the guys. That was a great way to play against one of the premier teams in the state."
Foehrenbacher scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including six with Gindorff on the bench.
But the five-year varsity player returned to action and pushed C-I's lead to eight. Senior Jack Silgen then sank six of eight free throws and the Rangers hung on to advance.
Silgen scored 17, Trey Jacobs 12 and Evan Edmundson eight for the Rangers.
"At times, I thought we were our own worst enemy," Galovich said. "When we had times to score in transition, we would have a turnover or we didn't convert that fastbreak opportunity and then we would come back and give up something easy on the other end, but it wasn't for a lack of effort.
"I thought sometimes our guys may have been trying too hard. For a first section game, sometimes that's not all that uncommon especially against the higher seed because the pressure is going to be on them more. And there was no question we felt some pressure as the game went on, but we were able to keep our composure and knock down a few shots and free throws at the end."
Following Thursday's victory over the 16-11 Huskies, the Rangers' road to the finals sets up with a rematch against No. 3-seeded Hinckley-Finlayson (23-4). C-I dispatched the Jaguars 52-51 Feb. 24. A win Saturday would lead to a possible contest in the section semifinals against Subsection 2's top-seeded Virginia, which finished the regular season with a 23-3 record.
Should the Rangers advance to the finals, waiting, barring an upset, would be top-seeded Esko (23-3), who the Rangers beat in overtime 58-55 after trailing the Eskomos by as much as 19 on their home court.
"Our specific draw, I don't think you'll see too many No. 2 seeds facing a 16-win team in the first round," Galovich. "Now we play Hinckley and they have 23 wins. We just played them two weeks ago and it was a one-point ballgame. We're expecting nothing but a close game."
Pillager 20 31-51
Crosby-Ironton 30 31-61
Braeden Wangsness 2, Ridge Hunstad 20, Tanner Swenson 11,Kaleb Smith 2, Ryan Foehrenbacher 16. FG 22-51 (43 percent), FT 2-4 (50 percent). 3-point 5-22 (23 percent).
Jack Silgen 17, Evan Edmundson 8, Trey Jacobs 12, Jonathan Jacobson 1, Noah Gindorff 23. FG 20-57 (35 percent), FT 17-25 (68 percent). 3-point 4-23 (17 percent).