Panthers boys need more production on offenseOne fact became painfully obvious as the St. Croix Central boys basketball team lost three games last week.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
One fact became painfully obvious as the St. Croix Central boys basketball team lost three games last week.
The Panthers need more production from players other than their “big three” if they are going to continue to grow this season.
Sure, the losses early in the week to Baldwin-Woodville and Colfax came against probably the two strongest opponents the Panthers will see this season. Saturday’s loss to Boyceville was a glaring example that the Panthers need more players to be a factor at both ends of the court.
The Panthers led through much of Saturday’s game. The Panthers led 27-18 at halftime and the lead grew to as many as 12 points. But the Panthers couldn’t hang on, losing to the Bulldogs 52-50.
The big three for the Panthers are seniors Kyle Cress, Brad Walen and Aaron Johnson. They accounted for 46 of the Panthers’ 50 points on Saturday. Cress had one of his most complete games, scoring 23 points and contributing strongly in rebounding.
Saturday’s game was the start of the second half of the regular season for the Panthers. Central coach Mike Fern was happy about having “to go back to the drawing board” at this stage of the season. He was particularly upset about the defensive effort that let Boyceville hit six three-pointers.
“Anybody can play defense. You’ve got to want to do it,” Fern said. “Our skill level isn’t high enough where anyone can take nights off.”
The losses to Boyceville and to Colfax last Thursday dropped the Panthers from fourth to seventh in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings at 3-4.
The 60-33 loss to Colfax was the product of the Panthers not being able to stop Colfax once it got momentum. The Panthers led 8-5 after the first quarter, but Colfax broke the game open with 21 points in the second quarter. Fern has been saying all season that he thinks Colfax is the best team in the conference. The Vikings looked like it that night and they now lead the D-SC with a 6-1 record.
This was the second straight week that the Panthers played three games. Fern said that once Colfax got on a roll, the Panthers didn’t have the energy to stop it.
Cress led the Panthers with 10 points and Walen scored nine points against Colfax.
The Panthers’ best game of the week was at Baldwin-Woodville last Tuesday. The game was tied 43-43 with 3:40 left, before B-W scored six straight points. The Panthers tried to come back but lost 53-49.
The Panthers didn’t start well at B-W, falling behind 21-12 in the first quarter. The Panthers gradually worked their way back and took the lead at 41-39 when Walen scored of an offensive rebound with 4:51 left in the game.
Fern said he thought the Panthers bounced back after the slow start to give a strong performance.
“We just had a few execution mistakes late in the game,” he said.
Walen paced the Panthers with 18 points. Johnson scored 14 points and Cress contributed 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Panthers start the second half of conference play this Friday when they play at Spring Valley. The Cards beat Central 58-36 in the opening game of the season.