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Panther girls return to winning ways with return to D-SC action

A return to Dunn-St. Croix Conference play was exactly what the St. Croix Central girls basketball team needed.

The Panthers shook off a three-game losing streak, beating Elk Mound and Plum City late last week.

The wins lift the Panthers' record to 4-1 in conference play, trailing Mondovi and Colfax in the D-SC standings. The Panthers are now 6-3 overall.

The Panther offense has been at something of a low simmer the past few weeks. On Saturday the offense turned up to full boil against the winless Plum City girls. Central jumped out to a 20-3 first quarter lead and led 38-5 at halftime. The Panthers finished with a 56-31 win.

The Panthers would love to bottle the outside shooting touch they showed on Saturday and break it out for every game. The Panthers hit 8-12 three-point shots in the game.

The seniors led the Panthers' revitalization last week. Ashley Adkins knocked down four three-pointers in Saturday's game and Nikki Brooks and Jordan Risberg each sank two of them.

Brooks and Adkins also combined for nine steals and Brooks led the Panthers with six rebounds.

Central coach Luke Fritsche said the physicality Brooks possesses is rare on the basketball court.

"Nikki is physically beating up other teams. She's more physical than the average girl," Fritsche said.

Brooks led the Panthers with 17 points on Saturday. Adkins finished with 14 points and Laura DeSmith scored 11 points.

It wasn't quite that easy in Thursday's win at Elk Mound. The Panthers needed a strong finish to complete their 53-45 win over the Mounders.

The game was tied at 37-37 entering the fourth quarter. The Panthers outscored the Mounders 16-8 in the fourth, led by four points each from Brooks and Arinn DiSalvo.

Brooks and Adkins combined for 28 points in the win. Adkins, who couldn't find her outside shooting touch consistently before Christmas, hit 4-7 treys against Elk Mound. Brooks led the Panthers with 10 rebounds and six assists. She and Emily West each notched four steals and West also chipped in with five assists.

Tall test

The Panthers were in for a surprise when they arrived in Amery last Tuesday. They were amazed at the height of the Amery girls. Amery used that height to edge the Panthers 35-28.

Central had a chance to tie the game with 35 seconds left on the clock. The Panthers missed two free throws at that time and Amery hit several free throws in the final seconds to ice the win.

Amery plays two girls who stand six-feet tall and several more who are only an inch or two shorter than that.

"We were probably four or five inches shorter at every position," Fritsche said.

While the Panthers played a sharp defensive game, Amery's height prevented the Panthers from getting much accomplished offensively. Amery blocked a number of shots when the Panthers ventured too close to the basket.

Adkins and DeSmith led the Panthers with six points each. Brooks had seven rebounds to lead the team.

Schedule

The Panthers play one game over the next week, but it's a toughie. The girls play at home on Friday against Dunn-St. Croix Conference leader Colfax.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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