Panthers' incredible comeback shocks HilltoppersAfter seven ineffective quarters, the St. Croix Central boys put together one beauty at Glenwood City on Friday. And that was just enough.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
After seven ineffective quarters, the St. Croix Central boys put together one beauty at Glenwood City on Friday.
And that was just enough.
Despite trailing by 17 points early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were able to rally for a 47-45 win over the Hilltoppers. This gives Central a 1-1 record for their opening week of the 2010-11 season.
The mega-comeback was completed at the buzzer. The Panthers ran an inbounds play with 1.6 seconds left on the clock. The ball went to senior Brad Walen, who released the shot just before the buzzer sounded.
Walen’s hoop capped a frantic comeback that was led by senior guard Aaron Johnson. Johnson hadn’t scored in the first three quarters, but he made up for that by scoring 14 points in the final quarter. His points included three three-pointers.
Johnson led the charge. Senior Kyle Cress put the Panthers in the lead by hitting a three-pointer with a minute left. Glenwood City scored off a steal to tie the game. The Panthers held the ball for the last 25 seconds, setting up the last shot.
“We were very fortunate,” said Central coach Mike Fern, saying Glenwood City is “a good team and they’ll win a lot of games in our conference.”
The win was truly good fortune. The Panthers had one of their worst free throw shooting nights in decades, making 3-15 attempts, but they went 3-4 in the fourth quarter.
Cress led the Panthers with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Johnson’s four assists were tops on the team.
It was a harsh season opener for the Panther boys last Tuesday against Spring Valley. The Panthers had little luck getting their offense settled, which allowed Spring Valley to run away with a 58-36 decision.
Central started the game well, taking an 8-6 lead when Joe Poulin scored off an offensive rebound with 2:16 left in the first quarter.
The lack of movement in the Panther offense then began to take its toll. The few shots the Panthers could get were off-balanced and forced. Spring Valley began using its athleticism to beat the Panthers upcourt. The Cards went on a 22-5 run through the rest of the half to lead 30-13 at halftime.
Spring Valley’s lead grew as high as 31 points in the second half.
Fern was blunt in displaying his dissatisfaction with the team’s performance.
“We weren’t playing as a team,” he said. “The seniors were trying to do too much as individuals.”
The Panthers graduated a great deal of their varsity experience and this game showed there will be some growing pains in merging the new players with the returnees.
Fern said the team didn’t communicate well at either end of the court, saying the veteran players need to take the lead in establishing the team’s on-court chemistry.
Walen led the Panthers with 10 points. Sophomore Ethan Lindahl was one of the few bright spots in the game for the Panthers, scoring eight points.