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Girls Basketball: Rangers advance to state semifinals

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MINNEAPOLIS — After losing two games at the state tournament last year, the No. 5 seeded Crosby-Ironton Rangers recorded the first state win in program history with a 63-50 victory over No. 4 seed New London-Spicer Wildcats Wednesday, March 13, at Williams Arena.

“It feels good to get that one off our back of getting our first victory down at state as a program,” C-I head coach Pete Vukelich said. “That was a big motivator for our girls today.”

Sophomore Tori Oehrlein led the way for the Rangers with 33 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and eight steals.

“When Tori is going like that I think the other girls feed off that,” Vukelich said. “Even when they try to go diamond-and-one, other girls can get involved and they can step up.”

As a team, the Rangers recorded 15 steals and forced the Wildcats into 21 turnovers. C-I also forced New London-Spicer to shoot 24.6% from the field, including 8-of-37 from 3-point.

“I caught on in the first half that they always started their first pass off to the right,” Oehrlein said. “I picked it off a few times and then I was able to read their eyes and see where they were passing it.”

Crosby-Ironton’s Tori Oehrlein dribbles the ball against New London-Spicer in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals Wendesday, March 13, 2024, at Williams Arena.

Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

C-I held a big advantage on the glass as the Rangers outrebounded 54-37. Sophomore Lucy Lewandowski snatched 11 rebounds to go along with eight points.

“I think we know that rebounding is what wins games for us,” Senior Mararget Silgen said. “We always have been a good rebounding team and it’s all heart and effort.”

Silgen was the only other Ranger in double figures with 11 points. She also dished six assists.

With a nine-point halftime lead, the Rangers extended their lead to 46-32 after a Lewandowski layup with 13 minutes left.

After the Wildcats cut the lead back down to nine, the Rangers used suffocating defense to go on a 10-1 run and extend the lead to 58-40 with 6:21 left.

C-I in the Class 2A State Tournament

The Crosby-Ironton Rangers celebrate their victory over New London-Spicer in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals Wednesday, March 13, 2024, at Williams Arena.

Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

“That second half we played tremendously and held nothing back,” Vukelich said. “We knew that we could expose the high post a little bit — especially getting Tori in there because good things happen when we do. I felt like we had a good plan and I loved the pace that we played at.”

After a slow start by both teams, the Rangers lead 14-8 with 11 minutes left in the first half after a Silgen two-pointer.

New London-Spicer took a brief lead at 27-26 with five minutes left in the first half. That’s when the Rangers ended the half on a 12-2 run.

“That was a huge run,” Vukelich said. “I’ve been waiting for that run since the section final game against Pequot. To see that happen was very refreshing and I think was a huge confidence booster.”

Oehrlein finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in the first half.

The two teams played on Jan. 13 with the Wildcats winning 84-60. Vukelich added he made plenty of defensive adjustments from that contest two months prior.

“When we played them in the regular season we went man-to-man,” Vukelich said. “We learned from our mistakes and have been a 2-3 zone team for most of the year, so we went back to our bread and butter tonight.”

C-I advances to the state semifinals where it will play the top-seed Providence Academy Lions at 6 p.m. Friday, March 15, at Williams Arena.

Both the Lions and Rangers matched up on Jan. 30 with Providence Academy winning 94-75.

The Lions won their quarterfinal game 94-84 led by sophomore Maddyn Greenway who finished with 49 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

“They shot pretty well when we played them on their home floor,” Vukelich said. “We need to contain Maddyn Greenway as much as we can, which won’t be easy as I see she almost dropped 50 points tonight. If we can limit them to one shot I think we can compete.”

Coming into the state tournament, the Rangers lost to the top four seeds in Class 2A. After Wednesday, they avenged one loss. C-I hopes to avenge another loss Friday.

“We know a lot of the teams here. We didn’t give them our best shot,” Silgen said. “We want to come back and stick it to them.”

New London-Spicer 29 21 — 50

Crosby-Ironton 38 25 — 63

Ayla Caskey 17, Ava Carlson 12, Dakota Rich 12, Roxanne Klein 1, Addison Peltier 5, Delaney Hanson 3. FG 17-69 (24.6%), FT 8-12 (66.7%). 3-point 8-37 (21.6%).

Margaret Silgen 11, Emma Silgen 2, Samantha Hachey 6, Veronica Millsop 3, Lucy Lewandowski 8, Tori Oehrlein 33. FG 28-63 (44.4%), FT 3-6 (50%). 3-point 4-16 (25%).

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Crosby-Ironton 63, New London-Spicer 50

Key: Crosby-Ironton holds New London-Spicer to 25% shooting in first ever state win.
Overall: CI 25-6, NLS 28-3.
Next: Crosby-Ironton vs. Providence Academy 6 p.m. Friday, March 15.

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