Panthers great start can't hold off Hilltoppers
Riding the emotion of the win by the St. Croix Central boys, Central's girls played a tremendous first quarter in the second half of the double-header at Glenwood City on Saturday night.
The Panther girls pounced out to a 15-4 lead in the opening 3:30 of the game. Glenwood City eventually made up that margin and this became a wild battle the rest of the way, with the Hilltoppers pulling out a 65-63 win.
The score was tied 63-63 when Central's Bailey Gillis tried to draw a charging foul with 51 seconds left in the game. Gillis struck her head on the court and the game was delayed 15 minutes as she received medical treatment.
Gillis was called for a foul on the play, and after the break, the Hilltoppers hit two free throws to take the 65-63 lead. Each team then had possessions where they missed close range shots. The Panthers got the ball again, getting off two shots in the final moments. At the buzzer, Central freshman Ann Olson was fouled. She needed to make both free throws to send the game to overtime, but neither shot would fall.
"That is really a tough spot for a freshman to be in," said Central coach Shannon Berg. Berg said the game wasn't decided on those two free throws, that the Panthers had plenty of other opportunities to put this game away.
The start of the game could not have gone better for the Panthers. They jumped out to the 15-4 lead, getting into the bonus in the first three minutes of the game. That led to the Panthers going 25-47 at the free throw line. It also resulted in four Hilltoppers fouling out of the game.
Central center Rachel Anderson had a huge game. She scored 24 points, including 10-13 free throws, and she had a game-high 15 rebounds.
The Hilltoppers were able to cut into Central's lead in the third quarter by forcing the Panthers into turnovers. By the end of the third quarter Glenwood City had taken the lead.
Huge overtime win
The St. Croix Central girls took a large step toward becoming a respected team last Tuesday. That's when the Panthers knocked off Mondovi, 65-57 in overtime. Mondovi had come into the game with an 11-3 record and was in second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.
"As a program, since I've been here, it's our biggest win," said Berg, in her third year coaching the Panthers. "At some point you have to start beating the good teams. The kids were definitely ready to make that next step."
Central had to show poise to get the win. The Panthers trailed 57-53 with a minute left in regulation. With two hoops they tied the score, giving Mondovi 18 seconds to try to get the winning points. The Panther defense made sure that didn't happen and the game moved into overtime.
In the overtime the Panther defense ruled, holding the Buffaloes without a point for the four-minute period, just as the defense had done in the final minute of regulation.
Berg didn't have to think long about what was the main difference in the Panthers' play in this game, quickly pointing to the outside shooting done by Dani Brown and Bailey Gillis. They were each 3-5 from three-point range.
"And all at crucial times," Berg said of the treys. "It's really nice to have that extra component."
With Brown and Gillis bumping up their scoring output, the Panthers had four players score in double figures. Senior Rachel Anderson and junior Ella Olson are two of the most reliable scorers in the conference. They did all of Central's scoring in the overtime, with Anderson scoring twice and Olson going 4-4 from the free throw line.
Anderson finished the night with 22 points. Berg said two of Anderson's biggest plays came after Mondovi rebounds. Twice, as the Mondovi rebounder tried to get the ball to a guard, Anderson stepped in and stole the ball, putting the ball up for a quick Panther basket each time.
Anderson led the Panthers with 11 rebounds in the game. Olson's contributions included seven assists and nine rebounds.
One of the best statistics of the night for the Panthers was their ability to limit their fouls to nine for the game, their lowest total of the season. Berg said the girls showed good judgement in their defense, not reaching in to commit bad fouls and keeping enough of a cushion where the Mondovi players couldn't drive past them.
The Panthers took the lead right away in this game and had the margin up to 11 points. Mondovi started to cut into that lead in the third quarter and the third quarter was a scramble to the end.
The Panthers will be playing at home in the opening round of the WIAA tournaments after drawing a third seed in the regional seeding.
The Panthers will open tournaments next Tuesday, Feb. 22, with a home game against Webster, the team that received the sixth seed. That game will start at 7 p.m.
The final regular season game for the Panthers will be played this Friday at Spring Valley. The girls will play at 6 p.m. in the first game of a double-header, with the boys playing at 7:30 p.m.
Glenwood City 65,
St. Croix Central 63
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (63)
A.Olson 0 2-6 2, Gillis 0 0-0 0, E.Olson 3 9-12 15, Brown 5 2-7 12, Kircher 0 0-0 0, Rothbauer 0 0-0 0, Anderson 7 10-13 24, Strickland 2 2-6 6, Frank 2 0-3 4. Totals 19 25-47 63.
GLENWOOD CITY (65)
Huntress 1 0-0 3, Frieberg 2 0-0 5, A.Cassellius 10 5-6 25, Johnston 2 2-2 6, S.Cassellius 0 1-4 1, Hansen 2 1-2 5, Kusilek 5 3-5 13, Voeltz 1 0-0 2, Leduc 1 3-4 5. Totals 24 15-23 65.
St. Croix Central 21 14 17 11 63
Glenwood City 15 15 24 11 65
Three-point goals -- Huntress, Frieberg. Fouled out -- E.Olson, A.Cassellius, Johnston, Hansen, Kusilek. Total fouls -- St. Croix Central 22, Glenwood City 31.
St. Croix Central 65,
Mondovi 57 in overtime
Kramschuster 4 6-6 16, Moe 2 2-2 7, Johnson 3 0-0 9, Cheline 8 4-5 20, Bauer 2 1-2 5. Totals 19 13-15 57.
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (65)
A.Olson 0 2-2 2, Gillis 4 0-0 11, E.Olson 3 4-5 10, Brown 4 0-2 11, Kircher 1 1-1 3, Rothbauer 0 0-0 0, Anderson 10 2-2 22, Strickland 0 4-4 4, Frank 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 13-16 65.
Mondovi 12 7 22 16 0 57
St. Croix Cen. 19 7 18 13 8 65
Three-point goals -- Kramschuster 2, Moe, Johnson 3, Gillis 3, Brown 3. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- Mondovi 17, St. Croix Central 9.