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Boys Basketball: Rangers’ balanced attack leads them over Pillager

Crosby-Ironton hosted Pillager in the Section 7-2A Opening round.

Crosby-Ironton boys basketball against Pillager.
Crosby-Ironton's Jordan Oehrlein goes up for a basket against Pillager Thursday, March 10, 2022, at Crosby-Ironton High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

CROSBY — Ten points.

For a long time that was the point differential between the No. 4 seeded Crosby-Ironton Rangers and the No. 13 Pillager Huskies Tuesday, March 10, in the Section 7-2A opening round.

That was until Domanic Cadak hit his third straight 3-pointer for Pillager to cut the Rangers lead to 54-46. After a C-I timeout, the Rangers rattled off a 10-0 run which turned into a 76-54 victory over Pillager.

“We just had to shorten the close out on him,” Ranger head coach Dave Galovich said. “He is a good shooter and we told our guys that they had three or four kids, who on any given night could potentially light it up.

“A guy hits one OK. A guy hits two, well you better get near him. The third one, and we’re not making an adjustment, well that’s on us.”

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C-I shot 51% from the field Tuesday but used free throws in the first half to its advantage. C-I was 10-of-10 from the line in the opening frame and used two from Jordan Oehrlein, two from Carsen Turk and a Turk basket to turn an 11-point advantage into a 41-24 lead. Pillager scored the last three points of the half to cut into the Rangers’ 41-27 halftime advantage.

“I thought we came out much better than we did the last time we were here,” Pillager head coach James Bentson said. “We got down about 10 points right away so we played better. I don’t think we shot that well in the first half, but we played with a little chip on our shoulders and gave ourselves a chance.”

Oehrlein scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the opening frame, but three 3-pointers from James Stokman opened the paint for C-I’s big man.

“That’s exactly what that does,” Galovich said. “The reason they’re in the corners is because of spacing. It helps everyone when we can knock down those 3s. It helps our ability to drive to the basket. It helps our post players and now they’re 1-on-1. That corner 3, you have to be able to knock that down.”

Crosby-Ironton boys basketball against Pillager.
Crosby-Ironton's Jordan Mount goes to the net against Pillager's Domanic Cabak Thursday, March 10, 2022, at Crosby-Ironton High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Pillager jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Oehrlein scored seven of C-I’s first 10 points to hand the Rangers a 10-5 lead. Then C-I just built on it. Will Meyer’s only bucket of the first half handed C-I an 11-point lead. Two Oehrlein free throws and a Turk lay-in made it 35-22.

“We really tried to go after Oehrlein on the defensive end because he’s such a good offensive player,” Bentson said. “We wanted to try and not let him get into the paint as much. I thought Jacob Dixon did a pretty good job of that. He had help over the top, but there were times we got out of that. But I thought our guys worked hard. That was our game plan.

“Oehrlein and Turk are two studs. They work well together and they do things well. We just didn’t want them to beat us and C-I had guys step up and hit 3s for them.”

C-I’s Frank Meyer and Cadak traded off 3-pointers in the second half. Cadak finished with 12 points. Meyer hit three 3-pointers as C-I was 9 of 20 (45%) from 3-point. Cadak’s final three pushed the score to 54-46. Then Jordan Mount drained his only 3 of the game followed by consecutive Oehrlein baskets, and Turk’s only 3-pointer for a 64-46 edge. Turk finished with 19 points. Stokman followed with 13 points.

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Crosby-Ironton boys basketball against Pillager.
Crosby-Ironton's Frankie Meyer eyes the basket against Pillager Thursday, March 10, 2022, at Crosby-Ironton High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“We knew Pillager was going to come and play hard,” Galovich said. “They’re well-coached. They’re a physical team and we knew they were going to come and compete for 36 minutes and they did that.

“We had to play well. When you’re in March, you have to play well or you go home.”

Parker Schaefer hit a basket and a free throw to stop C-I’s run, but the Rangers answered with another 6-0 run for a 70-49 lead.

Schaefer, Elijah Miller and Tytan Skeesick all scored eight points for the Huskies who finish with a 10-16 record.

“This team worked hard,” Bentson said. “They were blue-collar workers. I’m glad the way we came out. It wasn’t the end result we wanted, but this time I thought we played much better and gave ourselves an opportunity.”

C-I defeated Pillager 78-49 Jan. 4 during their 13-game winning streak to open the season. Since then, however, C-I is 6-8 and Galovich hopes Tuesday’s win builds confidence in his team.

“I thought we played good team basketball,” Galovich said. “Defensively, yeah we had some lapses, but you’re going to have that during the course of a game, but overall, I thought we were pretty good defensively. I thought we rebounded better in the second half. In the first half, I thought we had some lapses and they hurt us on the boards. We got better.

“Offensively, we were fairly solid in the fact that we had some well-balanced scoring. We had kick-outs from our point guard and our post people to our perimeter guys that were spotted up and they knocked some shots down. That’s what we need to be successful.”

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Pillager 27 27 -- 54

Crosby-Ironton 41 35 -- 76

PILLAGER

Jacob Dixon 5, Grayson Beard 4, Domanick Cabak 12, Zion Loucks 7, Tytan Skeesick 8, Elijah Mille 8r, Parker Schaefer 8, Christian Hooge 2. FG 20-51 (39%), FT 9-18 (50%). 3-point 5-17 (29%).

CROSBY-IRONTON

Jordan Mount 5, James Stokman 13, Carsen Turk 19, Frank Meyer 9, Jordan Oehrlein 23, Will Meyer 7. FG 16-53 (51%), FT 15-18 (83%). 3-point 9-20 (45%).

 JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Crosby-Ironton 76, Pillager 54

Key: C-I shot 51% from the field

Overall: CI 19-8, Pill 10-16

Next: vs. No. 5 Two Harbors in Section 7-2A Quarterfinals at Hermantown 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12.

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