Ten straight and counting.
Ten straight losses to the Staples-Motley Cardinals are staring the Crosby-Ironton Rangers boys' basketball team in the face.
The streak could end or continue depending on the outcome of the Mid-State Conference showdown 7:30 p.m. Friday at Crosby.
C-I (4-2) hasn't beaten the Cardinals since the 1997-98 season. In that span S-M has outscored the Rangers 647-471.
This season, however, the Cardinals are struggling. At 2-6, S-M has yet to find a consistent offensive attack.
"We're a team that doesn't have a lot of size," said Cardinals coach Lynn Peterson, who owns a 40-9 overall record against C-I. "We have pretty good balance. We're playing eight kids. When we're clicking with all eight, we're really good. But we don't have that one person we can really rely on. We need to rely on our defense to create offensive opportunities."
Chad Brever is leading the Cardinals with 14.3 points a game, followed by Josh Smith's 13.3. Then it's a a cluster of Cardinals -- Andy Mertens (6.3), Dustin Greenwaldt (5.5), Zach Martin (5.0), Josh Anderson (4.3) and Dan Freeman (3.3)
Peterson said Brever is becoming the team leader, but Peterson stressed the importance of the entire team playing well for S-M to be successful.
Despite the losing record, the Cardinals aren't writing off the season. Of their six losses, three are to Class 3A schools (Detroit Lakes, Little Falls, Fergus Falls), two to 4A schools (Eden Prairie, Rochester Century) and the other to Park Rapids, which was previously ranked in 2A.
"Their record is really insignificant," said Rangers coach Dave Galovich. "They play a tough schedule. We have a few common opponents and the scores were similar. It's an important game for both teams. We both need to win to stay in the conference race."
Both teams lost to Park Rapids while both beat Pine River-Backus. The Rangers beat Detroit Lakes 67-58 but the Cardinals lost to the Lakers 63-45.
"There are a couple of those games we could have won," said Peterson. "Are we disappointed? Yes. Are we discouraged? No. We played three games at the Rochester tournament and I really thought our effort and our execution were getting a lot better. We need to carry that over this week."
The Rangers' other loss was to Brooklyn Center at the Ranger Holiday Tournament. C-I, led by Tyler Scull's 16.2 points per game, owns a high-scoring, balanced offensive attack. C-I is averaging 71.5 points.
Junior center Matt Brady is averaging 10.8 points followed by Parker Robinson (8.8), Tony Zontelli (8.6) and Jon Jasman (7.8). Brett Dickie comes off the bench and is averaging 6.3 points for the Rangers, who have won two straight.
"Scull is probably their leader," said Peterson. "They have some good balance as well. They're a team that plays very well at home against us.
"They're going to try and get the ball up and down the floor. They'll throw their 1-2-2 full-court press at us and try to create some turnovers."
Because neither team has much height, Galovich believes this will be a test for both teams. Galovich wants to exploit the Cardinals' rebounding problems. S-M has been beaten on the boards by an average of three per game.
"Both teams will try and use their athletic ability as much as they can and run up and down the court," said Galovich. "The rebounding is going to come from the team that puts fourth the better effort."
Galovich said he hopes C-I can contain Brever and Smith. He said the two S-M seniors probably can't be stopped, but containing them will be key. On offense he wants a balanced inside-outside attack.
"If you're scoring in one area, whether it's on the perimeter or inside, teams can shut you down," said Galovich. "Hopefully we have a good mix of inside and outside scoring so they can't focus on one particular area. The balance is also important if somebody does have an off night."
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