Girls basketball: Not in the books for NLS

Mar. 13—MINNEAPOLIS — In an atypical shooting night for the New London-Spicer girls basketball team, Crosby-Ironton's Tori Oehrlein shined under the bright lights to help the Rangers put a new stamp in their history books on Wednesday.

Oehrlein scored 33 points and notched 15 rebounds in No. 5 Crosby-Ironton's 63-50 victory over the fourth-seeded Wildcats in the Class AA quarterfinals at the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena. The Rangers' win marks their first at a state tournament.

"It's amazing," Oehrlein said. "We're showing our hard work is paying off and we love playing for our community."

"We're not done yet," the Rangers' Lucy Lewandowski said.

Crosby-Ironton, which lost 84-60 to the Wildcats on Jan. 13, advances to play No. 1 Providence Academy in the Class AA semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday back at Williams Arena. The Lions, behind a 49-point performance from sophomore guard Maddyn Greenway, beat Perham 94-84 on Friday. NLS plays unseeded Perham at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Class AA consolation semifinals at 6 p.m. Thursday at Concordia University's Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul.

Also on Friday, No. 2 Albany beat unseeded Rochester Lourdes 58-41 and No. 3 Minnehaha Academy defeated Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 75-39.

"(The girls) gave everything they had, but it wasn't enough today, that's for sure," Wildcats head coach Mike Dreier said.

Oehrlein was efficient all-around. She shot 15 of 21 (71.4%) from the field and added eight steals and five assists to her double-double in 34 minutes.The 5-foot-11 sophomore guard largely contributed to the Rangers' total of 44 points in the paint.

Crosby-Ironton also got 11 points, six assists and five rebounds from 5-9 senior guard Margaret Silgen and eight points and 11 rebounds from Lewandowski, a 5-10 sophomore forward.

"She's just a good player," Dreier said of Oehrlein. "She's a sophomore and she's got over 3,000 points already. That says a lot."

NLS, for a second straight season at the state quarterfinals, struggled offensively. The Wildcats shot 17 of 69 (24.6%) from the field and 8 of 37 (21.6%) from beyond the arc.

Crosby-Ironton's offense was also slow out of the gates, but it found its footing and finished the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 38-29 halftime lead on 17 of 34 (50%) shooting from the field.

"That was huge," Rangers head coach Pete Vukelich said of the closing first-half run. "I know we're capable of going on those runs. To see it happen again, it was refreshing."

Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, NLS star guard Dakota Rich fouled out as the Wildcats tried to claw their way back. The 5-8 junior finished with 12 points on 4 of 13 shooting with three 3-pointers.

Ayla Caskey, a 5-8 sophomore guard, paced NLS with 17 points on 4 of 21 shooting from the field and 6 of 9 free throws. Ava Carlson, a 5-10 junior forward, had 12 points (6-for-13).

"We were all really frustrated," Carlson said. "We knew we could do better than that and we weren't playing to our potential. Everyone was a little down and we need to keep our heads up better than we did."

"We just didn't have it today for whatever reason," Dreier said. "As well as we played many times (this season), we played poorly today in a lot of ways.

"It's too bad we picked this place to do this, but they still get another chance tomorrow to go out there and show that they're better than what they were today."

Crosby-Ironton won the boards battle, out-rebounding NLS 54-37. The Rangers were able to turn that into 12 second-chance points and that also contributed to 19 fast-break points.

"We always just know rebounding is what usually wins games for us," Silgen said. "We have always been a very good rebounding team."