Panther boys basketball in rare losing streakThis is unaccustomed territory for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
This is unaccustomed territory for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team.
The Panthers have now lost five straight games, something that the team hasn’t suffered through in a decade.
The latest losses came last week, when the Panthers lost to Elmwood and Spring Valley. The losses came in games with vastly different styles. Last Tuesday the Panthers lost in an offensive shootout with Elmwood, 79-63. Friday’s game with Spring Valley took on much more of a defensive tone, with the Cards winning 47-35.
Timing hasn’t been working well for the Panthers either. Elmwood is one of the hottest teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, winners of six of the past seven games.
Elmwood simply ran the Panthers into trouble. The Raiders got numerous hoops off fast breaks in the first half. The Panthers did their best to keep close, based mainly on the outside shooting of Kyle Cress and Aaron Johnson. Cress scored 13 points in the first half and Johnson added nine. The Panthers trailed 37-32 at the break.
In the third quarter the Panthers continued to hang on, largely due to Cress’ biggest game of the season. He scored 13 points in the third quarter, but Elmwood still led 56-50 entering the fourth quarter.
The Panthers got two three-pointers from Dan Sukowatey in the fourth quarter. They couldn’t stop the parade of Raiders to the foul line. Elmwood hit 20-24 free throws in the game, making any Panther comeback hopes moot.
Cress finished the game with 28 points and Johnson scored 14 points. Cress led the team with five rebounds and three assists. Joe Poulin had four steals to lead the team.
On Friday the Panthers played at Spring Valley where the Cards were trying to get back into the D-SC race after recent losses to Plum City and Elmwood. The difference in this game was short-range shots. Spring Valley was making the majority of its shots from the paint, while the Panthers couldn’t get their shots to drop. That resulted in the Cards winning 47-35.
Johnson led the Panthers with 11 points on Friday and Cress finished with 10 points.
While the Panthers have struggled lately, coach Mike Fern said he fully expects the team to make a quick recovery.
“I take pride in our teams having a strong stretch run,” Fern said.
The stretch run for the Panthers begins on Thursday, when they host Glenwood City. The Panthers will be playing a non-conference game at Ellsworth on Saturday. The Panthers return to conference action next Tuesday with a home game against Mondovi.