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Bagley dominates Crosby-Ironton, advances to Friday's Section 8-2A title game

Throughout the winter the Bemidji State University men's basketball team generated phenomenal fan support by playing entertaining and winning basketball.

Throughout the winter the Bemidji State University men's basketball team generated phenomenal fan support by playing entertaining and winning basketball.

Tuesday night the gym was alive once again and with 2:47 remaining in the game the local fans went wild when their heroes scored on a fast break to extend their lead to an insurmountable 61-45.

The fans Tuesday night, however, were not backing the Beavers. Their exuberance was directed toward the Bagley boys basketball team.

The Flyers advanced to Friday's 7 p.m. Section 8-2A championship game by dismantling Crosby-Ironton 70-50 in the East Sub-Section title contest. In the West Sub-Section Perham edged Pelican Rapids 57-54 Tuesday. Perham is the defending section champ but Bagley has given notice that it will offer a stiff challenge.

Behind a potent offense that featured an inside-outside attack, and a zone defense that continually denied entrance passes and frustrated the Rangers, Bagley grabbed the early lead and never let go.

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"We played very well on defense and really rebounded both offensively and defensively," said an elated Bagley coach Chuck Anderson. "Our offensive plan was to spread the floor and find a mismatch. And when we find one, we will use it."

Tuesday's mismatch was Flyer Kris Skersick and anyone the Rangers employed to try and stop him. Skersick is only 6-0 but he was able to use his strength to own the territory within the paint.

"Crosby had no answer for our kids inside," Anderson said. "We don't have tall kids but we have strong kids. Crosby didn't have anybody who could match up with Kris or our other inside kids."

Skersick finished with 19 points, many of the baskets coming off the offensive boards.

"My motivation was simple: I didn't want to go home yet," Skersick said of his performance. "We came out strong and we kept it going because we didn't want the season to end."

Bagley bolted to a 7-0 lead and, after C-I drew within 9-7, the Flyers responded with a 10-1 run to take charge at 19-8.

At intermission Bagley owned a 31-22 advantage and the tone had been set.

"We stepped up our zone defense and that helped us get into an offensive tempo," said Tyler George who led all scorers with 23 points. "Our plan was to start out fast. I don't know if our energy level at the start shot Crosby down right away but at least it let them know that we were here."

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Every time the Rangers attempted a comeback in the final 18 minutes Bagley had the answer.

With 11 minutes to play Crosby-Ironton scored five straight points to draw within 45-38 but Lucas Thompson's fast break basket off a C-I turnover and George's drive following another Rangers miscue, restored a double-digit lead. And the Rangers never recovered.

"We knew we had to utilize our strengths and defensively that was to have our posts get the rebounds, not allow second chances and turn those stops into offense," George said. "Every time we make a stop we feel that now it is our turn to score. And those chances built up during the game."

Bagley, the second seed from the East, will take a 23-6 record into Friday's section championship game while Perham, the second seed from the West, is 26-2.

Bagley (70)

Thompson 1, 0-0, 2; Bellefy 6, 1-4, 13; Laudon 1, 0-0, 2; George 9, 3-4, 23; Skersick 8, 2-5, 19; Larson 0, 1-2, 1; Pemberton 3, 0-1, 6; Lundmark 2, 0-0, 4. Totals: 30, 7-16, 70

Crosby-Ironton (50)

J.Goodwin 5, 0-0, 13; W.Goodwin 1, 0-0, 3; Hoge 4, 0-1, 8; Baker 5, 1-2, 13; Jacobs 1, 0-0, 2; Hudrlik 5, 1-4, 11. Totals: 21, 1-7, 50

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3-point FG: Bagley 3 (George 2, Skersick 1), C-I 6

Fouls: Bagley 11, C-I 16

Halftime: Bagley 31, C-I 22

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