CROSBY -- With a scenario similar to the NFL playoffs the Pierz Pioneers had an opportunity to go home as champions of the Ranger Boys' Basketball Classic Friday.
After consecutive wins over Deer River and Brooklyn Center and a loss by the Crosby-Ironton Rangers to Brooklyn Center all the Pioneers had to do was win or at least score many points against C-I.
Unfortunately for the Pioneers they could do neither as the Rangers took an early lead and kept building on it for a 63-36 win. With the win C-I turned the tournament into a three-team race between Pierz, C-I and Brooklyn Center, all of whom finished 2-1.
The deciding factor was points allowed and with the lopsided win the Rangers ended up winning the tournament with Brooklyn Center finishing second. Pierz came in third.
After an unproductive first quarter for both teams the Pioneers got a run going early in the second.
Dave Kurtz got things going with a three-pointer from the left side. A Gideon Avelsgard foul gave Kurtz the opportunity for a four-point play and the Pierz senior converted. Still down by one Kurtz scored again to give the Pioneers a one-point lead, their last lead of the game.
On the ensuing possession Joel Anderson's three-point attempt was short but the 6-foot-2 senior center was fouled. After Anderson nailed all three shots, Tom Mount scored two of his seven for a 20-17 lead.
Both teams battled back and fourth to end the half with C-I up 24-23. The one statistic that was glaringly in favor of the Rangers was foul shooting with C-I knocking in 11 of 13 attempts. Pierz got to the line only three times in the first half.
"We've made a living at the free throw line all year," said Pioneers coach Dean Dahmen. "We're 6-2 and we've made more free throws than the other teams attempted in those games. I don't think we shot any today.
"They didn't call anything and it just got out of control. They had more bodies to throw at us and that hurt too."
At the start of the third quarter the Rangers were hot offensively and defensively. A Mount three-pointer and another by Avelsgard, who finished with 12 points, made it 30-23.
The Rangers turned up their defensive pressure, allowing Pierz only six points in the third and seven in the fourth.
"We wanted to come out in the beginning of the game and set the tempo and play some good defense," said Rangers coach Dave Galovich. "For the first seven minutes of the first quarter we did that.
"We had a lapse at the end of the quarter that carried through to the second quarter. Also, I think we made some poor decisions offensively with the basketball.
"In the third quarter we wanted to come out and refocus ourselves and establish ourselves defensively. On the offensive end we wanted to make better decisions and look inside. Things just started rolling for us."
In the fourth quarter Anderson pumped in five free throws to help him lead all scorers with 15. With the Pioneers missing Adam Tschida due to illness the Rangers' big men dominated the boards, outrebounding Pierz 34-22.
"He's a good rebounder for us, a good scorer and an excellent defender," Dahmen said of his absent captain. "I had a kid that never started a game for us get thrown in there. He's more of a bench player this year. He gets thrown into the mix and it didn't work out as well. He's only a Kyle Bartels finished with seven rebounds and 10 points for C-I.
"They weren't really doing anything defensively," Bartels said of the Pioneers' post defense. "The guards just needed to kick it in every once in a while but Pierz wasn't really doing much.
"The second half came and our coach just told us to get the ball inside more and the guards started looking in there more. We just took it slow on offense and waited for our opportunities."
Ben Baratto and Aaron Johnson came off the bench to keep any threat of a Pierz rally under control.
Pierz 9 14 6 7 -- 36
Crosby-Ironton 12 12 15 24 -- 63
Dan Saehr 7, Chris Zilka 4, Luke Kozulla 6, Mark Kimman 6, John Kahl 4, Travis Talberg 3, Dave Kurtz 6. Team totals: FG 15-45 (33 percent), FT 4-6 (67 percent). Conference -- 1-0. Overall -- 6-2. Next game: host Big Lake 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Tom Mount 7, Gideon Avelsgard 12, Kyle Bartels 10, Joel Anderson 15, Ben Baratto 8, Steve Perpich 4, Aaron Johnson 4, Nick Douvris 3. Team totals: FG 17-49 (35 percent), FT 24-28 (86 percent). Conference -- 0-1. Overall -- 4-2. Next game: at Staples-Motley 7:30 p.m. Friday.
3-point baskets -- CI-5 (Avelsgard 2, Anderson, Mount, Douvris), P-2 (Saehr, Kurtz). Rebounds -- CI 34 (Bartels 7, Baratto 7), P 22. Turnovers -- CI 8, P 13. Total fouls -- CI 13, P 21. Assists -- CI 10, P 5. Steals -- CI 7, P 4. Blocks -- CI 2, P 1.
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