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Prep girls basketball: Last-second layup sinks Proctor in 7AA semifinals

Crosby-Ironton will meet Pequot Lakes for the section title on Friday.

Crosby-Ironton's Tori Oehrlein and Josie Schaefer go up against Proctor's Hope Carlson to get a rebound in the Section 7-2A Semifinals on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Crosby-Ironton's Tori Oehrlein and Josie Schaefer go up against Proctor's Hope Carlson to get a rebound in the Section 7AA semifinals on Wednesday at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

DULUTH — Tori Oehrlein found Josie Schaefer for the game-winning layup to give the No. 3 seed Crosby-Ironton Rangers a 55-53 win over the No. 2 Proctor Rails in the Section 7AA semifinals on Wednesday.

“We were telling them to roll all game,” Rangers head coach Pete Vuklich said. “We told Josie in that last timeout — you have to roll hard because you’ll get the pass and Tori will find you. Josie scored a big one against New London-Spicer to seal it for us and she showed her senior leadership tonight as well.”

The Rangers found themselves down 51-45 with under four minutes left. Oehrlein, who scored a game-high 29 points, made a layup and found Schaefer for a bucket to make it 51-49.

Oehrlein then had back-to-back layups to give the Rangers their first lead since 9-8 with 1:06 left.

Proctor responded with a Hope Carlson mid-range jumper to tie it. After Schaefer’s game-winning basket, the Rangers did not allow the Rails to get a shot off to advance to the Section 7AA final where they’ll see top seed Pequot Lakes.

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Vuklich credited the schedule the Rangers played during the regular season to give them the toughness to come back in the second half.

“We were down in the second half to New London-Spicer and against Minnehaha,” he said. “The girls were just composed. The schedule really made these girls resilient throughout the year.”

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Proctor's Paige Evans is cornered by Crosby-Ironton defenders Samantha Hachey (22) and Tori Oehrlein (30) during the first half of Wednesday's Section 7AA girls basketball semifinal at Romano Gym in Duluth.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Proctor was led by Lily Smith, who finished with 20 points. Carlson recorded 19 points, with 15 of those coming in the second half.

“We were proud of the effort we put in tonight,” Proctor head coach Matt Solberg said. “We grinded tonight. One or two bounces go our way and it’ll be a different story.”

Smith hit back-to-back 3s in the second half to give Proctor its largest lead at 37-28. Oehrlein was then tasked with shutting her down and did so, holding her to two points the rest of the game.

“She proved that she is not just an offensive player,” Vuklich said. “She’s one of the best two-way players not only in the state, but the country. She wanted her and she did a great job on her.”

The Rails owned a 27-21 halftime lead. Oehrlein had 15 of C-I’s 21 points in the first half.

“You can see we put a lot of bandwidth into stopping her,” Solberg said. “When she turned a corner on a screen, we had a body there waiting for her.”

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Margaret Silgen and Hannah Compton chipped in to help C-I eat away at Proctor’s lead. Compton finished with eight points while Silgen made two 3-pointers in the second half for six points.

“We just stayed patient on offense,” Vuklich said. “We just kept reversing it on offense to get the looks we wanted.”

The Section 7AA final with C-I and Pequot Lakes is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Brainerd High School. The two teams split in the regular season with C-I winning the last matchup 73-72 on Feb. 10 in Crosby.

“Taking care of the ball is going to be the big thing,” Vuklich said. “(Pequot) likes to create a lot of turnovers and score off them.”

Proctor 27 26 — 53

Crosby-Ironton 21 34 — 55

Proctor — Chloe Carlson 7, Paige Evans 4, Hope Carlson 19, Lily Smith 20, Kelsey Tangen 3. FG: 21-54, FTL 5-6 (83.3%).

Crosby-Ironton — Josie Schaefer 6, Hannah Compton 8, Brynn Hollenhorst 2, Margaret Silgen 6, Samatha Hachey 4, Tori Oehrlein 29. FG: 24; FT 2-5.

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