Central boys get playoff basketball win over SaintsEnding the season on a positive note was a goal for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Ending the season on a positive note was a goal for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. By winning their WIAA Division 3 playoff opener against St. Croix Falls last Tuesday, the Panthers achieved their goal.
The Panthers defeated the Saints 54-46 on Tuesday. That moved Central into the regional semifinal on Friday against Osceola. Central led for much of the first half, but the Panthers couldn’t match a push made by the Chieftains in the third quarter. Osceola pulled ahead to win 58-43.
The Panthers finish the season with an 8-16 record.
The Panthers needed a strong second half to pull out their victory over the Saints last Tuesday.
The Saints led 24-22 at halftime. The Panthers held a 15-9 scoring edge in the third quarter, when they took control of the game.
The Panthers had an excellent inside-outside offensive balance in the game. Senior guard Kyle Cress scored a game-high 23 points, with senior center Brad Walen ending with 17 points.
The win was the second in three games for the Panthers, after ending an 11-game losing streak.
At Osceola on Friday, the Panthers played a very solid first half. They led through most of the half. A couple missed assignments on defense late in the half left Osceola senior Robert Seiberlich open for three-point looks. He buried those chances and Osceola carried a 27-23 lead at halftime.
Osceola stayed hot from the perimeter in the second half, forcing the Panthers out of their zone defense.
Cress led the Panthers with 15 points and four rebounds at Osceola. Dan Sukowatey came off the bench to score nine points, all on three-pointers.
Central coach Mike Fern said the program isn’t used to having eight-win seasons. He said it will take work to get the basketball program back among the top teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.
“We’ve got to have a good summer and these kids have to work their tails off. They’ve got to spend a lot of hours by themselves improving their skills,” Fern said.