St. Croix Central boys basketball gets rewarded for its efforts
The hard work finally paid off for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team.
The Panthers are able to cherish their first win over the holiday break after winning at Boyceville, 56-52, last Friday.
For the Panthers, the intermittent progress shown by the team finally paid off after losing their first six games of the season. The Panthers have had some gems and some clunkers among those losses. They put up impressive efforts against Mondovi and Somerset, but the offense had miserable games in losses to Elk Mound and Colfax.
One of the best aspects of the win for the Panthers was that many players made key contributions. The game was closely officiated. Boyceville had two players foul out. The Panthers didn’t lose anyone on fouls because their bench players were able to make key contributions.
Boyceville led 14-12 after the first quarter, but the Panthers took charge of the game in the second quarter. By halftime, the Panthers led 25-19. The Panthers were able to maintain a lead throughout the second half. The lead did come into jeopardy in the final minute when Boyceville hit a couple shots to cut the lead to one point. Connor Lyksett hit free throws in the final moments to lock up the win, including two with eight seconds left on the clock.
Lyksett was part of the strong bench contribution, as was Doug Cottrell. They both scored in double figures. Cottrell scored 13 points and led the team with five rebounds. Lyksett finished with 10 points.
The Panthers were led in scoring by Jason Matteson, who finished with 16 points. Panther coach Zach Turpin said Matteson is the barometer for the team’s offense. Matteson sank three three-pointers in the first half on Friday. Turpin said the team needs confidence in its shooting and when Matteson starts well, the team follows his lead.
Turpin said another key to the victory at Boyceville was the defensive effort of Central guard Tony Berg against Bulldog leading scorer Jordan Kuhn.
“Tony did a great job going over screens to deny Kuhn shots,” Turpin said.
Last Tuesday’s 35-15 loss to Colfax was a prime example of how the Panthers’ lack of confidence can mushroom quickly. The Panthers made just six of their 42 shots from the field.
“Hopefully, we’ve got all those games out of our system,” Turpin said of the offensive struggles.
Josh Freyholtz led the Panthers with four points and six rebounds against Colfax.
The Panthers have plenty of time to enjoy their first win. They don’t play again until Jan. 3, when they play at St. Croix Falls. Turpin said the focus of the practices over the break will be offensive, working on shooting, being more aggressive and taking the ball to the basket.