CROSBY - The Crosby-Ironton Rangers are an inspiration to short people everywhere.
What Class 2A's third-ranked Rangers lack in height, they compensate for with quickness and court savvy. Just ask Class 1A's third-ranked Minnesota Transitions Wolves. The previously unbeaten charter school from Minneapolis towered over the Rangers, but couldn't muster a win as C-I captured its own holiday tournament 60-56 Wednesday.
C-I held 6-foot-10 Kevin Noreen to a season-low 22 points. Noreen, who is on the verge of becoming Minnesota's all-time leading scorer, posted just 10 in the second half as the Rangers packed the paint with their zone defense.
That defense held the entire Wolves team to 16 first-half points, 12 of which came from the Boston College recruit.
"Defensively we just wanted to stay with our zone that we've been using and try to help inside against the big kid as much as we possibly could," said Ranger head coach Dave Galovich. "That was a difficult thing because when you help down low on Kevin Noreen, there sits his brother Kyle and when he positions himself on the arc it's tough to try to combat both of them. I thought we did a pretty good job with it."
Crosby-Ironton 60, Minnesota Transitions 56
Key: Mark Hoge led all scorers with 28 points and Tyler Dickie hit 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch
Overall: CI 8-0, MT 6-1
Next: Crosby-Ironton at Pequot Lakes 7:30 p.m. Friday.
C-I's version of a post player - 6-foot-3 Mark Hoge - led all scorers with 28 points, 15 of which came in the first half as the Rangers claimed a 24-16 edge at the break. The driving, slashing and often times falling Hoge outscored MT 11-6 to end the half. He added seven rebounds, six assists and six steals.
"We felt we needed to get the ball to Mark in the middle of the floor near the high post area,"Galovich said. When he does that, he's very good with the basketball. He's unselfish. He can kick it down low or kick it out to the perimeter. Numerous times he took the ball to the basket himself. He's a kid that's difficult to guard and I thought he played very well tonight."
The Wolves, who have advanced to the last two state tournaments, couldn't be held down forever. They forced two quick turnovers and scored six quick points to climb to 26-22 to open the second half.
For every Wolves' run, however, the Rangers answered. Brock Tesdahl scored eight of his 12 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer that gave C-I a 33-27 advantage. Matthew Hudrlik scored six of his nine points in the final frame. His layup, followed by a Hoge basket, handed the Rangers their biggest lead of the game at 50-40, but the Wolves clawed back.
Kyle Noreen, a 6-6 junior, knocked down three 3-pointers and scored all 13 of his points in the second half. His last trey, followed by a Rodney Owens' layup, cut C-I's lead to 58-56, but senior point guard Tyler Dickie was 9-of-10 from the foul line down the stretch to seal C-I's eighth-straight victory.
"That was big," said Galovich. "We missed a few 1-and-1s and they'd come down and nail a 3. It didn't seem like they missed many 3-pointers in the second half. But Tyler is very steady. I thought he handled the ball well. They put good pressure on the ball. To handle the ball and make minimal mistakes and then to go to the line and knock some free throws down was huge."
The Wolves outrebounded the Rangers 36-29, but came away with just eight second-chance points. They also turned the ball over 20 times compared to C-I's 12. The Rangers scored 11 points off those turnovers.
C-I shot 44 percent from the field despite going 3-of-17 from 3-point. The Rangers also shot just 58 percent from the line (11-19), but the Wolves never got there. They finished 0-2 from the stripe.
Senior Mark Hoge drove toward the basket for two of his game-high 28 points in the Crosby-Ironton Rangers' 60-56 victory over Minnesota Transitions Wednesday in the final round of the Ranger Holiday tournament in Crosby. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"We've been looking forward to this game the whole tournament," said Hoge. "We were taking it one game at a time and not looking too far ahead, but at the same time in the back of our minds we were waiting for this game. We were excited for this one."
Notes: Hoge and both Noreens were joined by Mesabi East's Travis Whiting and Kelvin's Michael Thorne-Finch on the all-tournament team.
Kelvin, from Manitoba, Canada, defeated Mesabi East 67-48 to claim third-place.
Minnesota Transitions 16 40 - 56
Crosby-Ironton 24 36 - 60
Mac Ingram 3, Kyle Noreen 13, Kevin Noreen 22, DeAngelo Potter 5, Rodney Owens 10, David Wallendorf 3. FG 23-63 (percent), FT 0-2 (percent), 3-point baskets: 6-21 (Kyle Noreen 3, Ingram, Potter, Wallendorf).
Matthew Hudrlik 9, Tyler Dickie 9, Mark Hoge 28, Sam Baker 2, Brock Tesdahl 12. FG 23-52 ( percent), FT 11-19 (percent), 3-point baskets: 3-17 (Hudrlik, Hoge, Tesdahl).
Rebounds: CI 29 (Tesdahl 9, Hoge 7), MT 36. Assists: CI 17 (Hoge 6, Dickie 6), MT 12. Steals: 15 (Hoge 6), 12. Turnovers: CI 12, MT 20. Blocks: CI 0, MT 5.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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