AITKIN -- Throw out the records, throw out the experience factor, throw out everything when the Aitkin Gobblers and Crosby-Ironton Rangers take to the basketball court.
That was the case Friday night at Aitkin High School when the rivals squared off in a non-conference boys' basketball game.
The inexperienced Gobblers didn't show their youth against the veteran Rangers but C-I pulled off a 69-61 win to improve to 2-1 overall.
Down by 13 going into the final quarter Aitkin turned up the heat on C-I by scoring five of the first seven points to close to within 10. But Earl Villebrun knocked in a three from the top of the key and was fouled. He completed the four-point play to give the Rangers a 63-49 lead.
Villebrun scored eight of his 13 points in the final quarter and all but four of the Rangers' fourth-quarter points.
The Gobblers mounted their charge again, rattling off five more unanswered points. After two Villebrun free throws Scott Rivers knocked down a three and followed with another basket for a 67-59 Aitkin deficit.
The Rangers began to stall and ran the clock down. Aitkin was forced to foul, putting the Rangers on the line 11 times and they knocked in seven free throws to seal the win.
Joel Anderson led the Rangers with 23 points, seven rebounds and three steals while Kyle Bartels also scored in double figures with 10 points and three blocks.
"We wanted to get the ball down low and if it wasn't there we would kick it out," said Anderson. "If it's there just score it.
"We were pumped because we lost to them last time here. This is a good win for us."
The Rangers utilized their low-post players early to build a 36-25 halftime lead.
"Our last game we didn't look inside enough," said Rangers coach Dave Galovich. "Before we went out tonight we said that we needed scoring from all spots on the floor. If you score from one area only it's too easy to shut down.
"I thought they put good pressure on our guards and wings. The thing is we have to move the ball around. Where we got into trouble was when we came down and shot too quickly. When we do that we end up standing around and we don't have the board strength."
The Rangers were in position for most of the game as they outrebounded the Gobblers 16-11.
Stopping Adam Holder was the key for the Rangers but they had trouble early as he dropped in eight points in the first quarter. After a Ranger timeout Holder was held to four points the rest of the game.
With Holder heavily guarded, Adam Spolarich, Rivers and Joe Carroll stepped up their games and each scored 10 points.
The Rangers shot a stellar 67 percent from the field while Aitkin was nearly as effective shooting 51 percent. The difference came at the line where C-I was 11 of 17 while Aitkin shot just 27 percent (3-11).
"We just haven't been shooting a lot of them," Aitkin head coach Greg Hills said of free throws. "We lost one game where we shot three and the other team shot 29. We want to get to the line more and that comes from going inside more.
"We have to take it strong inside because that's where you get your shooting fouls.
"I told the kids we're close. A lot of teams will say that but the games we lost were games we weren't dominated by the other teams in any stretch. In fact our last game we should have won. Our inexperience showed in that one.
"I have no bad things to say about our effort. We just need to execute a little better."
Crosby-Ironton 19 17 21 12 -- 69
Aitkin 16 9 19 17 -- 61
Joel Anderson 23, Troy Caddy 3, Tom Mount 8, Gideon Avelsgard 8, Kyle Bartels 10, Earl Villebrun 13, Ben Baratto 4. Team totals: FG 26-39 (67 percent), FT (65 percent). Overall -- 2-1. Next game: Ranger Holiday Tournament Dec. 27-29.
Adam Holder 12, Thomas Just 4, Adam Spolarich 10, Aaron Johnson 5, Scott Rivers 10, Mike Bare 5, Joe Carroll 10, Josh Hegman 4, Ben Solien 1. Team totals: FG 26-51 (51 percent), FT 3-11 (27 percent). Conference -- 1-2. Overall -- 1-4. Next game: Aitkin Quarterback Tournament Dec. 28-29.
3-point baskets -- C-I 6 (Villebrun 2, Anderson 2, Mount 1, Avelsgard 1; A 6 (Holder 2, Spolarich 2, Rivers 2). Rebounds -- C-I 16 (Anderson 7); A 11. Turnovers -- C-I 9, A 15. Total fouls -- C-I 17, A 15. Assists -- C-I 12 (Avelsgard 7), A 6. Steals -- C-I 6 (Anderson 3), A 2. Blocks -- C-I 5 (Bartels 3), A 1.
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