GRAND RAPIDS - Crunch time is Bryce Tesdahl and C.J. Peeters time.
The heavily favored Crosby-Ironton Rangers, ranked third in Class 2A, let the feisty Esko Eskomos scrap back into the game in the second half of the Section 7-2A boys' basketball semifinals Tuesday night.
That's when Tesdahl and Peeters stepped forward.
Tesdahl, the Rangers' 6-foot-3 floor general, scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, helping C-I to a 59-46 victory. Tesdahl added 13 rebounds and six assists as C-I won its 20th straight game.
"The first half we played all right," Tesdahl said. "The second half out of the locker room we kind of had a little lapse.
"I didn't play my best game, neither did the team, but hopefully that comes Friday. We're going to need it. I just try to step up at the time it's needed and hopefully Friday we'll be ready to go."
C.J. Peeters took a shot for the Crosby-Ironton Rangers during the Section 7-2A semifinals Tuesday in Grand Rapids. The Rangers defeated Esko 59-46 to advance to the section final against Pequot Lakes in Brainerd Friday night. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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Peeters, a versatile 6-5 forward, added 20 points, 10 in each half, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked six shots. He shot 9 of 15 from the field.
"We had a pretty good margin," Peeters said. "We just stayed composed and relaxed. They made a little run, the game's all about runs, but I felt we controlled ourselves. We called timeouts at the right times, relaxed, got our plays set up and I felt we did fine. I thought we handled the pressure and the press well."
Eleven second-half turnovers by the Rangers, and better shooting by the Eskomos, enabled Esko to climb back into a game it trailed by 17 points in the first half.
Esko clawed within 40-30 with 9:55 remaining before the Rangers seized control, spurred by Tesdahl and Peeters.
"Those two, no question, make things happen," C-I coach Dave Galovich said of Tesdahl and Peeters. "There comes a time when you've got to let them go a little more."
C-I's superior size (four starters at least 6-foot-3) and strength made it difficult for the Eskomos, who had no starter taller than 6-2, to penetrate. The Rangers outrebounded the Eskomos 43-30.
C-I 59, Esko 46
The key: The Rangers' Bryce Tesdahl and C.J. Peeters combined for 42 points and 21 rebounds.
Overall: C-I 28-1, Esko finishes 19-9
Next: C-I vs. Pequot Lakes 7:30 p.m. Friday at Brainerd High School.
"Defense was kind of the key," Galovich said. "They're a dangerous team with their perimeter game. Their strength is their outside shooting. I think we did a pretty good job against that, especially in the first half.
"We said at halftime they would be a little more aggressive, open things up, maybe take a few more shots they passed up on in the first half."
The Rangers scored the game's first eight points and never looked back. They had a seven-point run near the end of the half to surge in front 21-5.
In the first half, C-I's combination of man-to-man and zone defenses, as well as its size, congested the paint for Esko. The Eskomos shot 3-for-23 (13 percent) from the floor in the half.
Esko 10 36 - 46
Crosby-Ironton 26 33 - 59
Scott Lindquist 7, Jeremy Syrjanen 5, Kevin Rengo 12, Jake Olson 10, Micah Tengesdahl 4, Bryan Lindquist 3, Jamie Stokes 1, Jake Toman 4. FG 16-53, FT 10-12. Three-point baskets: B. Lindquist, S. Lindquist, Syrjanen, Olson. Turnovers: 8.
C.J. Peeters 20, Trevor Dickie 7, Bryce Tesdahl 22, Kody Bartels 4, Derek Swanhorst, 2 Joe McLaughlin 3, Peter Vukelich 1. FG 21-46, FT 14-18. Three-point baskets: Dickie, Tesdahl 2. Turnovers: 18.
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at email@example.com and at 855-5861.
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