State Boys Basketball: Rangers, Crusaders 1 win away
A pair of players could reach 1,000 career points on the Target Center floor. Crosby-Ironton's Trey Jacobs needs eight points and St. Cloud Cathedral's Michael Schaefer needs 12 to reach the scoring milestone. Both could do it during the Class 2A...
A pair of players could reach 1,000 career points on the Target Center floor.
Crosby-Ironton's Trey Jacobs needs eight points and St. Cloud Cathedral's Michael Schaefer needs 12 to reach the scoring milestone. Both could do it during the Class 2A state tournament when the No. 2-seeded Crusaders (27-4) face the No. 3-seeded Rangers (29-2) in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday. Annandale will face No. 1-seeded Minnehaha Academy in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Both games will be televised on KSTC.
The Crusaders enter their second state semifinal and first since 1999. This will be C-I's third semifinal in the last nine years. Despite the historical discrepancies, Cathedral head coach Matt Meyer, who was on the Crusaders' first state tournament team in 1999, is confident in his team's ability to match up with C-I's senior-led squad.
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No. 2 St. Cloud Cathedral vs. No. 3 Crosby-Ironton
- What: Class 2A state semifinals
- Who: Section 6-2A champion St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders (27-4) vs. Section 7-2A champions Crosby-Ironton Rangers (9-2)
- When: 8 p.m. Friday
- Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
- At stake: Winner advances to state title game vs. Annandale/Minnehaha Academy winner 1 p.m. Saturday
- TV: KSTC
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"Crosby is a little different kind of matchup because they have good size across the board," Mayer said. "So for us, we have the two bigs, but our guards don't quite match up the same sizewise. That's going to be a big key for us and how we handle size.
"Crosby is a very good team and they play kind of a lunch-pail-type basketball. They'll pound you inside a little bit, but they still have guys who can shoot from the outside. We're still trying to put together our exact game plan on how we're going to handle all that, but we know they're a very formidable opponent and we have great respect for them. It's going to be a street fight in how we're going to keep all those big bodies off the boards."
Cathedral is led by a pair of 6-foot-6 juniors in Mitchell Plombon and Michael Schaefer. Plombon averaged 19.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. In Cathedral's 70-59 overtime victory over New Richland in Wednesday's quarterfinals, Plombon tallied 25 points and seven rebounds. Schaefer led the Crusaders with 33 points and 15 boards. He averaged 21.5 points and 10 rebounds during the season.
"Pretty much everything we do offensively and defensively revolves around those two guys," said Meyer. "Obviously, between the two of them they're averaging over 40 points and 20 rebounds a game. They're just outstanding players. What helps us so much is their versatility. They both can step out and shoot the 3. They both can post up. They both can knock down the midrange jumper.
"We also surround them with good shooters so if a team focuses all their attention on the two bigs, we've got guys who can knock it down from the outside. We have three guys who shoot it 40 percent from the outside."
Sophomore point guard Jackson Baustian Jangula averaged 9.8 points per game, while dishing out 118 assists. The lone senior on the roster is guard Keaton LeClaire. The 6-1 guard averaged 7.8 points and 2.4 rebounds and distributed 140 assists.
Nicholas Schaefer is a 6-2 sophomore forward who came off the bench to score Cathedral's only bench points Wednesday. During the season he averaged 7.6 points and 2.1 rebounds.
"You have to look at their two post men," said C-I coach Dave Galovich. "They're very talented kids. They're both lefties. They both score on the block and they both can step out to the 3-point line. They're talented.
"Then they have a very good point guard. He's not very big at 5-7, but he's very quick and he's a very adept ball handler. When you have a good point guard, and you have good post players, that's where you want to start building a team and they have those pieces intact."
Wednesday, Cathedral shot 42.9 percent from the field. It averaged 48 percent for the season and averaged 74.8 points per game. The Quality Results Formula has the Crusaders ranked third, while C-I is fifth.
"I think the biggest thing for us will be the awareness," said Galovich. "Our guys are aware of the fact that those big guys can shoot the ball. It's going to (come down to) who is out guarding them on the perimeter. Sometimes our perimeter guys will be guarding them and sometimes our interior guys will be out there. It depends on the rotation of the zone. So whoever is out there, they have to realize those big guys can shoot it."
The Rangers shot 68.4 percent from the field Wednesday and were 11-of-13 (85 percent) from the line. C-I was led by Jacobs, who scored 26 points. That's 11 more than he averaged during the season, but the senior forward has been on fire during the postseason, especially in the opening half. Noah Gindorff was two blocks away from a triple double as he corralled 15 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
Evan Edmundson scored 10 points to go with seven assists. Jack Silgen added nine points and nine rebounds and Jonathan Jacobson added six assists and four points.
"Every game is different and you have to look and see what type of defense they're playing and where our advantage is," Galovich said. "We want to go to any mismatch we can create and attack that way. It is different game by game."
C-I turned the ball over 17 times, which Cathedral will hope to duplicate. The Rangers averaged just 10.7 turnovers a game.
"We always like to push it when available, but we've understood all year long once you get to playoff basketball, you have to win in the halfcourt," Meyer said. "We'll always look to run if it's there. Against Melrose (in the Section 6-2A final) we had very few transition baskets. (Wednesday) we had very few transition baskets.
"Ultimately, we would love it if the game was 90 to 85 points, but we understand the games are going to slow down and it's going to be more half court and we feel we can play just fine in that environment."