State Boys Basketball: Rangers vs. Cowboys: A conflict of styles

A matchup of conflicting styles awaits what should be a large crowd Wednesday night. The No. 3-seeded Crosby-Ironton Rangers will take their match-up nightmare lineup and 28-2 record against the 26-2 unseeded Breckenridge Cowboys, who want to pla...

Crosby-Ironton head coach Dave Galovich talks to his team during a timeout earlier in the season. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video
Crosby-Ironton head coach Dave Galovich talks to his team during a timeout earlier in the season. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video


A matchup of conflicting styles awaits what should be a large crowd Wednesday night.

The No. 3-seeded Crosby-Ironton Rangers will take their match-up nightmare lineup and 28-2 record against the 26-2 unseeded Breckenridge Cowboys, who want to play a high-octane, pressure-cooker style when the teams square off in the Class 2A state quarterfinals at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

This is a rematch of sorts-these teams last faced each other in the 2015 Section 8-2A finals. The Cowboys prevailed 49-47 on a last-second shot to advance to their first-ever state tournament. However, Breckenridge head coach, Arly Ohm, who wasn't the head coach three years ago, thinks this year's team is even more beloved by the community.

"I'll be honest. This is a new journey for a lot of this crew," said Ohm. "We have a lot of new faces. For some reason, the community seems to be embracing this group more so than two years ago. I think it's because of the style of play we play is very entertaining.


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C-I vs. Breckenridge

  • What: Class 2A state quarterfinal
  • Who: No. 3-seeded Crosby-Ironton Rangers (28-2) vs. Breckenridge Cowboys (26-2)
  • When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: Williams Arena, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Last meeting: Breckenridge beat C-I 49-47 in the Section 8-2A final in 2015

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"This group of kids, in general, are what I call old-fashioned values and the community has embraced them because they're just great people."

This year's Cowboy squad is led by senior guard Stevin Lipp, who is averaging 16.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He's added 87 assists and 77 steals to just 54 turnovers.

Noah Christensen is a 6-foot-7 sophomore who is averaging 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He's added 41 blocks and 40 steals.

Derek Dahlgren is a 6-1 junior guard averaging 12.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. And senior Carson Yaggie is averaging 7.1 points and 6.2 boards. He's also collected 51 steals and 47 assists

"They have a 6-7 post man this year just like two years ago, but two years ago it was the Lorenz kid, who was a senior and now playing at the University of Minnesota Crookston," said C-I head coach Dave Galovich. "The 6-7 kid they have playing this year is a good player, but he's a sophomore. He's not as strong as the post player they had two years ago, but he does give them some size and their perimeter is very good."


The question all teams must answer when facing the Rangers is how to dissect and beat C-I's matchup zone defense.

"I'm very familiar with Minnesota basketball because I'm kind of an old-timer. Dave Galovich is one of the best coaches in the state of Minnesota hands down," said Ohm. "That match-up zone, which is his point zone, he does a magnificent job teaching it. They are so well disciplined. They don't beat themselves. I just have great admiration for the C-I program.

"We do see that zone, but not at the level that they can play it. We see teams that attempt to do things, but that's a tribute to coach Galovich and I really do mean that sincerely. He's one of the best in the state."

Ohm didn't have an exact recipe to break down the zone calling that the million-dollar question. Instead he hopes Breckenridge's style of play will give C-I just as many fits as the zone will give his team.

"We're going to play the way we play," said Ohm. "We're going to pressure really hard. There will be no secrets. We totally have contradicting styles of play. We like to get up and down the court. They're more of a half-court, grind it out.

"We are very deep, but they're very large. We have a bunch of guards and they have a bunch of really good posts and some wings that can step out and shoot it as well. There is no question it will be a challenge for us, but what the heck."

That attitude has led to a 26-2 season, including a 54-41 victory over Section 8-2A's top-seeded Perham. The Cowboys' two losses came against Fergus Falls, which is in the 3A state tournament, to start the season and a 16-point loss to Perham Feb. 3.

Since then Breckenridge has rattled off 13 straight wins, including a 100-57 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek, a 96-42 win over Frazee, a 93-56 win over Wheaton/Herman-Norcross and a 94-35 win over Badger/Greenbush-Middle River.


Despite the large scoring outbursts, Galovich is most concerned about Breckenridge's defense.

"We just need to make sure we're taking care of the basketball," Galovich said. "They do a good job of extending pressure in the backcourt and also in the front court they pressure you. I really think defense is their strong suit. They have eight to 10 kids that they'll play. Some of them, their main job is just to apply pressure. Again, they do a great job defensively."

The Cowboys are ranked 18th in the Quality Results Formula. C-I is ranked fifth.

"Never would have thought we would be 26-2 in a million years," Ohm said. "We've surprised ourselves. We are most definitely overlooked. I would say we've flown under the radar all season. The thing that has been with this group, the two things-team chemistry has been very strong. Everybody has kind of filled the role.

"The second thing is we've been able to guard people all year long. When you play defense, you've got a chance every night and that's been the staple of our program."

With two recent wins over Esko, which was ranked third in the QRF, a difficult road in the Section 7-2A playoffs, a Mid-State Conference title and a 28-2 record, the Rangers aren't being overlooked.

But it's hard to overlook 6-foot-6 Noah Gindorff, who is averaging 16.7 points and 12.7 rebounds to go with 107 blocked shots, 111 assists and 71 steals.

If you choose to focus on the future North Dakota State University football player, then 6-5 point guard Jack Silgen will throw his 17.6 points and 6.2 rebounds at you. Silgen also has 116 assists and 80 steals on his resume.


Focus on those two and Trey Jacobs and Evan Edmundson will drain 3s. Jacobs is averaging 15.7 points 2.9 rebounds, while Edmundson is averaging 11.2 points and 2.5 rebounds.

Edmundson is shooting 43 percent from 3-point and Jacobs 39 percent. It was during that Section 8-2A final that Edmundson went off for six 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 18 points off the bench.

"I am so impressed because, I call it, pick your poison," said Ohm. "You can take one thing away, but then they have another weapon to go to. You can pack it in, but then they hurt you on the perimeter. You can take away their 3-point shooting, but then they hurt you on the inside.

"To be point-blank honest with you, I've been so impressed with them. I think they've got to be considered one of the top two teams in the state in my opinion."

As for exploiting a possible mismatch, Galovich said the Rangers will run their base offense and see where they might have an advantage.

"A lot of those (matchup problems) are game-time decisions and hopefully we have enough things in our offensive scheme that are already in place where we can move some guys around and try to put them in position where they'll have an advantage," Galovich said

The winner will face the winner of No. 2-seeded St. Cloud Cathedral and New Richland-Heartland-Ellendale-Geneva in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday at Target Center. The loser will drop into the consolation bracket, which was brought back this year for the first time since the state tournament went to four classes.

The consolation bracket games will be played Thursday and Friday at Concordia University in St. Paul.

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