Girls Basketball: C-I shoots its way to state

Crosby-Ironton vs Pequot Lakes in the Section 7-2A Final Friday, March 10

One basketball player takes the ball up the court as another defends.
Crosby-Ironton's Hannah Compton takes the ball up the court against Pequot Lakes' Maci Martini in the Section 7-2A Final on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — For the first time since 2004, the Crosby-Ironton Rangers cut down the nets to celebrate a Section 7-2A title Friday, March 10.

C-I freshman Tori Oehrlein sank six-of-six free throws in the closing minutes to cap off a 31-point performance in the No. 3 seeded Rangers’ 66-58 win over top-seeded Pequot Lakes at Brainerd High School.

Oehrlein recorded six 3-pointers and scored 22 of her 31 points in the second half to propel her team to state.

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“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was a little girl. I’m super stoked. I can’t believe this is all happening, but I love it.”

Senior newcomer Hannah Compton caught fire hitting 6-of-11 from downtown to finish with 21 points for C-I.


“It’s just surreal,” Compton said. “There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are going to state. Last year, I put a red medal around my neck and my whole goal this year was to put a blue one on.”

As a team, the Rangers went 13-of-26 from distance.

“Compton came up huge tonight and hit a lot of 3s,” C-I head coach Pete Vukelich said. “We knew coming in that we knew their zone and they like to sit in it. It’s been their bread and butter for years and we thought we were a good shooting team and we proved that today.”

Pequot Lakes was led by senior Maci Martini who finished her basketball career with 23 points. Lauren Schultz finished with 12 points and went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Isabel Larson added 11 points for the Patriots in the loss.

Girls basketball team mobs the floor at the end of the game in celebration.
Crosby-Ironton's girls basketball team reacts to beating Pequot Lakes in the Section 7-2A Final on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“We are proud of our girls,” Pequot Lakes head coach Brian Lempola said. “They’ve had a heck of a season and a heck of a run the last few years. Some nights, just don’t go your way. Credit Crosby, they did a nice job of executing and hitting shots tonight.”

C-I led 32-26 at the half. Pequot started the second half on a 10-3 run to take its only lead of the game at 36-35 with 14:36 left.

After a C-I timeout, the Rangers responded with a 12-1 run highlighted by two 3-pointers from Compton and Oehrlein each.

“It’s a game of runs and good teams aren’t going to go away easy,” Vukelich said. “We just knew that we had to stay composed. I took that timeout and just talked it through, stuck to the game plan and it worked out.”


Pequot Lakes then switched from its traditional 1-2-2 zone to man-to-man defense down 10.

“We needed to do something different,” Lempola said. “The zone attacks weren’t working. We weren’t communicating and getting out where we needed to and we needed to try something different.”

Compton’s sixth 3-pointer gave C-I its largest lead at 54-43 with six minutes left. Pequot responded with a 7-0 run capped off by a Martini 3-pointer to make it 54-50 with under four minutes left.

“We have a resilient group of kids and I knew we had another run in us,” Lempola said. “They were going to battle all the way until the end. Just tonight, we came up a few plays short.”

Girls basketball players in a row, waiting to get their second place medals.
Pequot Lakes girls basketball players wait to get their second place medals after losing to Crosby-Ironton in the Section 7-2A Final on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey

The Patriots cut the lead to 58-55 after Schultz nailed two free throws, but couldn’t get any more shots to fall beside a Kelsi Martini 3-pointer.

“We fought more and were not hesitating on our shots,” Oehrlein said. “We just kept going and knew we had to lock down on our defense.”

In the second half, Vukelich tried to get Oehrlein more in the middle of Pequot’s zone.

“We knew if we got her in the middle, good things were going to happen,” Vukelich said.


C-I jumped to a 10-3 advantage thanks to two Compton 3-pointers and two Josie Schaefer layups.

“After I hit my second 3-pointer in the first half, it was one of those moments where my shot felt good,” Compton said. “I was excited and ready to play.”

Vukelich said the fast start was one of the keys for the Rangers coming in.

“We knew those first five minutes were going to be huge,” he said. “We did not want them to get any sort of momentum. We had a heck of a crowd tonight, so let them get into it early and we will take care of the rest.”

Oehrlein did not record a field goal until the 11-minute mark of the first half when her first 3-pointer made it 14-11 Rangers.

“When I made my first 3-pointer I knew most of them were going to go in,” Oehrlein said. “Coach Pete told me I had to shoot it for the team and I couldn’t hesitate. I did that and just kept going.”

In a physical game, Oehrlein got called for her third foul with 2:32 left in the first half. Vukelich did not hesitate to leave her in the game and Oehrlein made him look like a genius as she nailed a 3-pointer right before the half to put the Rangers ahead by six.

“Hats off to her for staying composed with those three fouls,” Vukelich said. “We were a little worried they were going to go after her. She’s been in that situation before and knew how to handle it.”


The Rangers will play in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals Wednesday, March 15, at the University of Minnesota. The Patriots end their season with a 25-4 record.

“It means a lot,” Vukelich said. “As a boys’ team, I lost in this gym 16 years ago against Pequot Lakes, so it means a lot to this girls’ program. We’ve been working hard from day one. We had our bumps and bruises early, but we stayed together and here we are section champs.”

Crosby-Ironton 32 34 — 66

Pequot Lakes 26 32 — 58


Josie Schaefer 4, Hannah Compton 21, Brynn Hollenhorst 6, Margaret Silgen 3, Samatha Hachey 1, Tori Oehrlein 31. FG 22-40 (55%), FT 9-12 (75%). 3-point 13-26 (50%).


Ella Kratochvil 9, Isabel Larson 11, Kelsi Martini 3, Maci Martini 23, Lauren Schultz 12. FG 19-54 (35.1%), FT 15-19 (78.9%). 3-point 5-20 (25%).

Crosby-Ironton 66, Pequot Lakes 58

Key: Hot shooting gets Crosby-Ironton into the state tournament.
Overall: CI 23-7, PL 25-4.
Next: Crosby-Ironton in the Class 2A State Tournament TBA Wednesday, March 15.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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