COLERAINE -- Despite being from the Cuyuna Iron Range, the Crosby-Ironton Rangers boys' basketball team was anything but rusty.
The Rangers hit their first three shots and exploded to a 24-11 first quarter lead and eventually eliminated the eighth-seeded Blackduck Drakes 67-40 Thursday in the opening-round of the West Subsection 7, Class 2A playoffs at Greenway High School.
Despite green-colored walls, the Karen Tomberlin Gym was filled with maroon and white. That support was appreciated by a boys' basketball team that decided to play despite a 23-day teachers' strike.
"We were at an all-time high," said senior Joe Bauer. "We knew coming in we might be rusty so we wanted to combat that with as much intensity as we could. We came out hard and confident, which was something we were worried about. What we lacked in practice we got done in intensity."
Ryan Taggart, whose grandfather Harland Rothwell was one of four substitute head coaches, scored all eight of his points to ignite the Ranger first-quarter. Senior captain Brett Dickie scored seven of his 12 in the second quarter to lift the Rangers to a 40-18 halftime lead.
"We have two captains," said senior Wayne Ward. "We didn't really have to worry about anything because Brett basically runs the show for us. He's got pretty much everything under control. I love the captains. I couldn't ask for better captains."
C-I shot 10 of 15 in the first quarter and 15 of 31 in the first half. They were 5 of 10 from behind the 3-point line despite not playing a basketball game in more than three weeks.
"I thought we were going to be a lot more sloppy, but I thought we played pretty good in the first half," said Ward. "The second half was a little down, but it was all right.
"At the end, we're not in game shape, but we got the job done."
Mitch Wood scored six of his 10 points in the third quarter, pushing C-I's lead to 55-24.
Crosby-Ironton 67, Blackduck 40
Key: Ten different Rangers scored and C-I jumped out to a 24-11 first quarter lead for the victory.
Overall: C-I 16-11
Next Game: Crosby-Ironton vs. Aitkin in West Subsection 7, Class 2A playoffs at Grand Rapids 7:45 p.m. Saturday.
Bauer, who saw little time during the regular season, scored 11 points, eight of which came in the second half.
"I was a little surprised at how well we were shooting," said Bauer. "But we were hot. We've been practicing diligently for three weeks. They haven't been joke-around practices. We've been working hard. The condition has lacked a little. We prepared ourselves for this game as best we could."
A tired Ranger team, which had captains practices in Crosslake and Aitkin, held Blackduck to 15 of 48 shooting.
"The coaches helped us a little on general basics," said Bauer. "General aspects that they could help us. But mainly it was us just getting done what we needed to get done."
Blackduck 11 7 6 16 -- 40
Crosby-Ironton 24 16 15 12 -- 67
Cody Gross 8, Adam Beck 9, Danny Ferdig 7, Scott Geudes 12, Cody Thompson 4. Team totals: FG 15-48 (31 percent), FT 4-8 (50 percent), 3-pointers 4-12 (Beck 3, Ferdig 1).
Brett Dickie 12, Joe Bauer 11, Ryan Taggart 8, Ben Hoge 9, Trevor Dickie 5, Wayne Ward 7, Matt Brady 8, Mitch Wood 10, Matt Arneson 1, Cody Bartels 2. Team totals: FG 26-60 (43 percent), FT 7-14 (50 percent), 3-pointers 8-18 (Taggart 2, Bauer 2, T. Dickie 1, Ward 1, B. Dickie 1, Hoge 1).
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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