Spring Valley divides, conquers SCC defense
At halftime the St. Croix Central boys couldn't have been sitting in a better position against Spring Valley in the WIAA Division 3 regionals last Thursday.
The Panthers led 28-25 at halftime, despite having two of the team's leading scorers miss big chunks of the second quarter with foul trouble.
Spring Valley then switched its approach in the second half. Instead of relying solely on the outside shooting of Ryan Stangl, the Cardinals decided to spread the court. That gave point guard Tom Sauve room to drive through the Panther defense. Sauve set up his teammates for several quick hoops and Central's boys could never get the lead back, losing 49-41.
Spring Valley then advanced to the regional final on Saturday against Prescott. Spring Valley's boys won again, advancing to this week's Division 3 sectionals.
Central's boys were fortunate to be ahead of Spring Valley at halftime, considering leading scorers Tyler Cody and Cameron Sarnstrom sat out much of the second quarter with foul trouble. Central coach Mike Fern was only able to use starting forward Garrett Ullom for 2-3 minutes at a time because Ullom had been ill for most of the week.
"He didn't start eating until Thursday, he lost 12 pounds," Fern said. "Garrett gave us everything he had."
Ullom still managed to lead the Panthers with six rebounds.
Central started the game with great emotion, jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game.
With a sea of blue and white cheering behind the Panther bench, the Panthers boosted the lead to 10-4 on a Derek Raebel three-pointer. Raebel came off the bench to lead the Panthers with 11 points, including three treys in the first half.
"He kept us in the game in the first half," Fern said.
Spring Valley then came back to take the lead on three straight three-pointers by Stangl. The Panthers answered, with Sarnstrom scoring and then Raebel hitting a three-pointer at the end of the quarter, which put Central ahead 15-13 heading into the second quarter.
The teams each made a run in the second quarter. Spring Valley charged back to take a 23-21 lead, with Central's only points in that stretch coming on three-pointers from Raebel and Cody.
In the last three minutes of the half Central charged back. Ullom hit two free throws, then Ryan Fedie sank a three-ball to put Central ahead 26-23. Ullom scored on a feed from Raebel before the Cards got two free throws in the final minute to leave the halftime score at 28-25.
The first half was played with huge intensity and it featured sharp outside shooting from both sides. But neither team was able to establish an offensive presence in the post.
Spring Valley changed that in the second half. The Cards outscored Central 8-1 at the outset of the third quarter and Central never led again. Spring Valley's lead stood at 36-33 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter the Cards were extremely patient with the ball, running off huge chunks of time with each possession. The lead fluctuated between 3-5 points into the final minute of the game. Central guard Steve Gulich hit two free throws with 56 seconds left to cut the lead to 44-39.
Spring Valley then missed a free throw with 46 seconds left, but the Panthers' problems rebounding showed up again, with Spring Valley chasing down the rebound. The Cards then made five free throws in the final 45 seconds.
Both defenses made it tough on the opposing team. Fern said Spring Valley's ball pressure hurt the Panthers. He said the Panthers weren't as aggressive on offense as they'd been in the last meeting of the two teams, which Central won. Spring Valley had a 23-12 edge in free throws in this game, in the last game it was Central that had a large free throw advantage.
Panthers win opener
St. Croix Central's boys advanced to the second round of WIAA Division 3 regional basketball action by beating Osseo-Fairchild 47-31 on Tuesday.
By winning Tuesday, Central's boys will play again this Thursday, at Spring Valley at 7 p.m.. Central is seeded fourth in the regional and Spring Valley is the top seed, but Central knocked off Spring Valley 69-60 last Friday.
Central's boys beat Osseo-Fairchild with the same formula that has worked well for the team to build up a 15-6 record. That formula starts with strong defense, then relies on balanced scoring and low turnover totals.
In Tuesday's win the Panthers held Osseo-Fairchild to 14 points in the first half. The Panthers also used excellent balance in the offensive end. Tyler Cody led the team with 14 points, Derek Raebel scored nine, Steve Gulich seven and Ryan Fedie and Cameron Sarnstrom six each.
Spring Valley 49, St. Croix Central 41
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (41)
Cody 4 0-0 9, Fedie 2 1-2 6, Gulich 0 2-4 2, Meyer 0 0-0 0, Ullom 1 2-2 4, Raebel 4 0-0 11, Sarnstrom 2 3-4 7, Bowman 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Adams 0 0-0 0, Butler 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 8-12 41.
SPRING VALLEY (49)
Sauve 1 5-8 7, Thompson 2 5-6 9, Dr.Lukes 0 1-2 1, Stangl 7 1-2 19, Wentlandt 3 4-4 10, Dy.Lukes 1 0-1 3. Totals 14 16-23 49.
St. Croix Central 15 13 5 8 41
Spring Valley 13 12 11 13 49
Three-point goals -- Cody, Fedie, Raebel 3, Stangl 4, Dy.Lukes. Fouled out -- Gulich. Total fouls -- St. Croix Central 19, Spring Valley 15.
St. Croix Central 47,
Kutchera 7 1-2 18, Martinson 1 0-0 3, Pederson 1 0-0 2, Hulett 0 2-4 2, Berg 1 0-0 3, Larson 1 0-0 2, Wathke 0 1-4 1. Totals 11 4-10 31.
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (47)
Cody 4 4-7 14, Fedie 2 0-0 6, Gulich 2 3-4 7, Meyer 1 0-0 2, Ullom 0 0-0 0, Raebel 2 5-6 9, Sarnstrom 1 4-6 6, Bowman 1 0-0 2, Brown 0 1-2 1, Adams 0 0-0 0, Butler 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 17-23 47.
Osseo-Fairchild 8 6 7 10 31
St. Croix Central 14 7 5 21 47
Three-point goals -- Kutchera 3, Martinson, Berg, Cody 2, Fedie 2. Fouled out -- Pederson, Berg. Total fouls -- Osseo-Fairchild 17, St. Croix Central 15.