Central boys upset another D-SC leader
Fans never know what they are going to get from the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. But when the Panthers play Dunn-St. Croix Conference leaders, they seem to play their best.
On Monday night the Panthers upset a Dunn-St. Croix Conference leader for the second time this season, stunning Mondovi 47-46. On Jan. 20 the Panthers zapped Colfax, 57-50. At that point Colfax had been undefeated in D-SC play, but the Central loss started the Vikings on a five-game losing streak in conference play.
Mondovi came into Monday's game with a 13-1 record and the Buffaloes had been manhandling every conference foe. The Buffaloes had a 12-game winning streak until Monday night.
The Panthers won the game with a dramatic play in the final seconds. Junior guard Luke Brown drove into the lane and dumped the ball to David Butler. Butler took the ball strong to the basket, hitting the shot and drawing a foul with four seconds left. He hit the free throw to put the Panthers ahead 47-46.
Mondovi got the ball inbounds, but the Panthers wouldn't let the Buffaloes get the ball past midcourt before the buzzer sounded.
The Panthers have needed one player to step up as an offensive threat and Kyle Cress took on that role Monday night. Cress rang up 19 points to give the Panthers the spark they needed.
Panther coach Mike Fern said the team responded well to two of Mondovi's strongest areas. Mondovi likes to press, but the Panthers showed good poise and didn't commit many turnovers. Mondovi is also a large, physical team that feasts off offensive rebounds. The Panthers worked diligently at their rebounding, only giving Mondovi one shot on most of its possessions.
The Panthers have the ability to be a tough defensive team and they did a number on Mondovi's leading scorer, Josh Dregney. With Jonathan Stephens and Brian Aldworth rotating in guarding Dregney, they limited him to four points.
"We denied him the ball all the time and helped out well on screens," Fern said.
Brown had a strong floor game on Monday, leading the Panthers with six assists and four steals.
In two losses last week, the Panthers couldn't find enough ways to score consistently to stay in either game.
On Friday the Panthers lost at Glenwood City, 49-35.
The Panthers generated a number of high percentage shots from five feet and in during the game. But those shots bounded off the backboard and rim far too often. The Panthers made 13-57 shots from the field, a 22 percent accuracy.
"We missed so many putbacks and shots in the paint," Fern said. "You should win most games when you give up 49 points."
Fern said one of the things the Panthers are lacking right now is a player with the ability to consistently score 15 or more points. Brian Aldworth led the Panthers with seven points at Glenwood City and Kyle Cress, Brad Walen and Luke Brown each scored six points.
Cody Olson led the Panthers with eight rebounds against the Hilltoppers.
Central was competitive for much of Friday's game. They trailed by one point after a quarter and by two points at halftime. It was during the third quarter that the Hilltoppers made their move, outscoring the Panthers 11-4. The Panthers had several possessions in the third quarter where they never got a shot away and Glenwood City turned around to get transition baskets several times.
Glenwood City was led by Nick Schouten with 18 points. Tyler Kuehndorf and Tim Yoder each scored 10 points.
Last Tuesday the Panthers lost at Spring Valley 59-40. Central had beaten Spring Valley in the first round of conference play, but the Panthers couldn't shut down the Cards this time around. Tyler Bosshart and Corey Blaedorn combined for 33 points for the Cards.
Central started the game well, scoring 16 points in the first quarter. The offense sputtered the rest of the night. David Butler led the Panthers with 11 points. Brown, Cress, Olson and Walen each scored six points.
The Panthers have two road games on the docket for this week. On Thursday they will be playing at Elk Mound. That will be followed by a game at Plum City next Tuesday.