CROSBY -- The Crosby-Ironton Rangers and Staples-Motley Cardinals were neck-and-neck through 3 1/2 quarters, then the Cardinals put in their horses.
Still trying to figure out a lineup that can work, S-M coach Lynn Peterson went with a smaller, but quicker group that was finally able to pull away from the Rangers and pick up a 64-49 Mid-State Conference victory Friday.
Through the first three quarters, C-I hung with the Cardinals, thanks to an opportunistic defense that created 15 turnovers. The Rangers never led, but kept within eight points after the third quarter.
C-I pulled within 48-42 with four minutes remaining after a Ben Baratto put back.
Then Peterson went with speed. Along with starters Bobby Burton, Adam Barnett and Jace Thompson, Peterson inserted Landon Thompson and Nick Doll. The combination of four guards and Barnett under the basket worked.
"Last year, we were in the (Jeff) Brever era for four years," said Peterson. "It's been as big of an adjustment for me as it has been for the kids. If you go back to our history in the last 20 years, we've had some pretty good point guards who could take control.
"We know we have to do this collectively. I think we got a lot of nice passes for baskets from a lot of different people. That's what we're trying to do. Nobody is a point guard and nobody is this or that. As a team, this is what we have to do. The group that we had in there did a good job of that."
The Cardinals went on a 6-0 run before Tyler Scull knocked in two free throws. Scull finished with a team-high 17 points, but fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
"All game they created problems by beating us off the dribble with their penetration," said Rangers coach Dave Galovich. "They were able to break us down through the course of the game.
"Then, in the fourth quarter, we had several communication breakdowns on defense that led to some easy baskets. Overall, I thought our defensive effort was pretty good though."
S-M finished the game with a 14-2 spurt, highlighted by Burton's six free throws. Burton finished with 16 points.
"Everybody has a role and we're in this as a team," said Burton. "But I want the ball when the pressure is on. That's what we need. We need people that want the ball in the pressure situations and I want to be that guy."
C-I's leading scorer Ben Baratto was held scoreless in the first half. Much of that was due to the work of "I noticed in the second half when Baratto got his points we had Doll on him and Barnett was on (Adam) Johnson," said Peterson. "I thought about changing it and then I thought it was when we got our little spurt, that everybody needs to get better on defense and there's no better way than to start guarding a guy like Baratto."
Barnett was also a big reason why the Cardinals outrebounded C-I 27-15.
"When you look at the word rebounding, give all of our kids credit," said Peterson, "but Barnett is the guy you need to talk about.
"We've had a lot of coaches that have commented on him. He's averaging a double-double. He's 6-foot-3 but I don't know what he plays at."
Staples-Motley 16 15 15 18 -- 64
Crosby-Ironton 11 13 14 11 -- 49
Dan Lund 8, Bobby Burton 16, Jace Thompson 4, Adam Barnett 20, Landon Thompson 4, Nick Doll 10, Josh Smith 2. Team totals: FG 24-49 (49 percent), FT 13-15 ( 87 percent). Conference -- 1-1. Overall -- 5-3. Next game: at Bemidji 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Bryan Brown 2, Steve Perpich 14, Tyler Scull 17, Ben Baratto 8, Adam Johnson 6, Luke Brady 2. Team totals: FG 17-48 (35 percent), FT 11-15 (73 percent). Conference -- 1-1. Overall -- 4-4. Next game: vs. Detroit Lakes 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
3-point baskets -- CI 4, (Perpich 4), SM 3 (Lund 2, Doll 1). Rebounds -- CI 15, SM 27. Turnovers -- CI 15, SM 15. Total fouls -- CI 17, SM 13. Fouled out -- CI-Scull. Assists -- CI 8, SM 7. Steals -- CI 7, (Baratto 3, Scull 3) SM 1. Blocks -- CI 0, SM 1.
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