Somerset boys hold off Central in fourth quarter
For three quarters the Somerset boys basketball team found out why St. Croix Central's boys are one of the surprise teams in western Wisconsin.
In the fourth quarter the Central boys found out why Somerset remains one of the few undefeated teams in the area.
The Somerset and Central boys waged a classic on Saturday, with both teams showing they are still improving. Somerset took the lead in the fourth quarter and hit several clutch free throws to beat the Panthers 47-41.
Somerset remains undefeated at 9-0 while the loss puts Central's record at 6-2 for the season.
These two teams play old-fashioned tough as nails defense. Central's defense ranks among the most stingy Division 3 defenses in the state. The Panthers clearly made stopping Somerset leading scorer Mike Schachtner their focus. And for three quarters it couldn't have been done better.
Schachtner was held to six points in the first three quarters, though he sat most of the third quarter due to foul trouble. He then hit a three-pointer in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter to put the Spartans in front for good. Schachtner scored nine points in the fourth quarter to finish with 15 points.
Somerset actually came back and took the lead in the third quarter while Schachtner was on the bench. Senior Mike Wishard led Somerset's charge in the third quarter, scoring six points on some strong low post moves.
The game had started with Somerset jumping to an 11-3 lead. Central then began to assert its game plan. The Panthers got the ball to Garrett Ullom at the high post, which forced Somerset to extend its defense. That opened up the low post area for the Panthers.
The Panthers kept coming back, then Derek Raebel hit a three-pointer in the final seconds of the quarter to give Central a 12-11 lead at the break.
In the second quarter Central got the ball into Cameron Sarnstrom in the low post effectively. He hit two shots and also dished the ball out well when the Spartan defense collapsed down on him.
Both coaches were impressed with the play of their opponent. Somerset coach Eric Olson said of Central: "I didn't think they'd be this good at this point. I think they could win a conference championship. I wouldn't have said that before."
Olson also said Central was the best rebounding team the Spartans had faced this year.
Central coach Mike Fern said that Somerset is a good offensive team and the Spartans were effective in taking away some of Central's offensive weapons in the second half.
For both teams this game provided some validation. Somerset had been looking for a tough challenge heading into an important Middle Border Conference week of games and that's exactly what the Spartans got.
"Somerset is a good basketball team and we went toe-to-toe with them. I think this will help us down the stretch," Fern said.
Statistically, Schachtner led the Spartans with 15 points. He and point guard Adam Henzler each had six rebounds. Henzler also supplied six assists.
Central was led by Ullom's 11 points. Ullom also led the team with 10 rebounds. Sarnstrom added six rebounds.
Both teams took exceptional care of the ball in the game. Each team committed seven turnovers against some of the best defensive play they've faced all season.
The JV game Saturday was just exciting. Central's JV won 52-49 on a last-second three-pointer by Jake Butler. Central's JV team has only lost once this season.
Somerset 47, St. Croix Central 41
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (41)
Cody 3 0-0 8, Fedie 2 0-0 5, Gulich 1 2-4 4, Ullom 5 1-2 11, Raebel 3 0-2 7, Sarnstrom 2 2-4 6. Totals 16 5-12 41.
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (47)
Henzler 3 1-3 9, Raleigh 0 0-0 0, Anderson 2 3-4 7, Wishard 3 3-5 9, Klis 0 2-4 2, Jackson 1 1-2 3, Schreiner 0 2-2 2, Schachtner 6 2-2 15. Totals 15 14-22 47.
St. Croix Central 12 10 10 9 41
Somerset 11 7 15 14 47
Three-point goals -- Cody 2, Fedie, Raebel, Henzler 2, Schachtner. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- St. Croix Central 15, Somerset 12.