St. Croix Central girls basketball nearly overcomes 17-point deficitWith one win all season, you might think the St. Croix Central girls basketball team is looking forward to the end of season.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
With one win all season, you might think the St. Croix Central girls basketball team is looking forward to the end of season.
Central coach Luke Fritsche said that isn’t so. The Panthers have been playing markedly better at the end of the season, nearly pulling off a major upset on Friday.
The Panthers rallied back from a 17-point halftime deficit at Elmwood on Friday, losing to the Raiders 47-40. Elmwood has a 14-7 record and had recently notched wins against top Dunn-St. Croix Conference opponents Boyceville and Elm Mound.
The Panthers outscored Elmwood 13-9 in the third quarter and kept the rally going by outscoring the Raiders 15-9 in the fourth quarter.
“We wore them down, we just ran out of time,” Fritsche said.
The main reason for the switch was the Panthers’ ability to break Elmwood’s 2-3 zone in the second half. In the first half the Panthers were tentative in attacking Elmwood’s defense. In the second half the Panthers made such progress that they forced Elmwood out of the zone. The Panthers used their athleticism to further tire out Elmwood after the Raiders switched to a man-to-man coverage.
Sophomore guard McKenzy Johnson led the comeback, hitting four three-pointers to finish with 12 points.
“She’s become one of the best three-point shooters in the conference,” Fritsche said. “What sets her apart is she’s much more aggressive. She’s willing to take the ball into the lane too.”
Junior Taylor Refsnider finished with eight points and led Central with four rebounds.
“When she’s playing aggressively, she’s one of the better players on the court,” Fritsche said.
Melissa Ruvelson continued her strong recent contributions, scoring five points, all on free throws in the fourth quarter.
Fritsche said he’s disappointed that the season is nearing an end, because the team is showing the promise it has when it can start with a clean slate next season.
“They show a lot of promise. I see good things from them every game,” Fritsche said.
Last Tuesday the Panthers lost to Boyceville 52-28. This game was in the 12-15 point range until the final minutes, when Boyceville inflated the final score.
The Panthers struggled with turnovers in the game, making it difficult to maintain much flow on offense. Johnson led the Panthers with nine points and Brooke Kopacz scored six points. Refsnider’s eight rebounds were tops on the team.
The final regular season game for the Panthers arrives this Thursday when Central plays at Spring Valley. Central’s only win of the season was a 48-44 win over Spring Valley in the opening round of conference play.
The WIAA Division 3 tournament series begins for the Panthers next Tuesday. Central received the 11th seed in the regional bracket seeding. They will open tournament play on Tuesday by playing at Amery, the sixth seed in the bracket.