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Ramone Griffin of L'Anse Creuse North glides to the basket against Chippewa Valley in a MAC Red Division game. (Macomb Daily staff photo by Ray J. Skowronek)

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BOYS BASKETBALL: L'Anse Creuse North beats Chippewa Valley

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Jay Seletsky is taking a page from Tom Izzo. Maybe a couple pages.

It seems to be working.

Seletsky’s L’Anse Creuse North Crusaders cruised to victory Friday night over host Chippewa Valley, 58-37, to maintain a secure grip on first place in the MAC Red Division boys basketball race.

The Crusaders combined stifling defense with a pair of huge offensive spurts – a 13-0 run to start the game and an 11-0 to start the second half -- to put more than enough distance between themselves and the Big Reds.

Four players in double digits led a balanced scoring attack for the Crusaders: Tyler Conklin (13), Robert Hopkins and Aaron Schienke (12 each), and Ramone Griffin (10).

Chippewa Valley was led by Brandon Ramirez (9), Andrew Santilli (6) and Jon McWherter and Xavian Edwards (5 each).

The win was the Crusaders’ ninth straight and moves them to 5-0 in the league and 10-1 overall. Chippewa Valley falls to 1-4 (5-5).

Afterwards, Seletsky talked about the benefits his team has derived from the tough competition they’ve faced this season. The Crusaders’ only loss was to eighth-ranked Detroit County.

Meantime, they’ve beaten Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Rockford, and MAC Red foes Dakota and Eisenhower.

Scheduling tough regular season foes is a tactic Izzo has used for years to make his Michigan State Spartans tournament ready.

“Coming off of last year we talked about having nine guys back, five starters, and having a lot of confidence. We wanted to get challenged and we got that early on with Country Day. The second game of the year they beat up on us pretty good.”

Win or lose, it’s all part of grand plan, Seletsky says.

“We try to do those things to better ourselves,” Seletsky says. “We’re trying to see different styles of play.”

The Crusaders aren’t done. They host fifth-ranked Detroit Consortium Feb. 8.

After the County Day loss, “We went to Rockford and won, then beat a good Orchard Lake St. Mary’s team, so we got some momentum and that was evident today,” Seletsky says.

In addition to their scoring bursts, the LCN used a zone press to force the Big Reds into 14 first half turnovers. The Crusaders height – they feature three players 6-foot-3 and taller who are quick and athletic – was too much for the Chippewa.

Coming into Friday’s game, the Crusaders were ranked first in the MAC Red in defensive points allowed.

“We focus on our defense. From last season all the way into this season, it’s carried over and gotten better. We really feel if we can defend, we can stay in most games,” Seletsky says.

If Friday was any indication, about the only thing the Crusaders have left to do is fine-tune their perceived weaknesses.

The question is, do they have any?

“I think our intensity needs to stay up,” Seletsky says, aware that success can breed complacency. “We can’t take plays off. We have to stay after it and keep that high focus level if we want to make another run.”

L’Anse Creuse North hosts Romeo Jan. 29. Meanwhile, Chippewa Valley travels to Dakota. Both games start at 7 pm.

L’Anse Creuse North 18 14 20 6 – 58

Chippewa Valley 2 9 7 19 -- 37

L’ANSE CREUSE NORTH (58): Sean Koski 2, John Allen 4, Alex Bond 1, Tyler Conklin 13, Robert Hopkins 12, Frank Devos 4, Aaron Schienke 12, Ramone Griffin 10, Totals: 24 (5) 5-12 – 58.

CHIPPEWA VALLEY (37): Xavian Edwards 5, Kenneth Gwinn 3, Jon McWherter 5, De’Shaunte Newton 3, Brandon Ramirez 9, Andrew Santilli 6, Jerry Taylor 3, Justin Young 2. Totals: 15 (3) 4-11 – 37.

Last Updated: 1/26/2013 12:11:29 PM EST