St. Croix Central boys basketball play evenly with Spring Valley for three quartersFor three quarters, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team was the equal of Spring Valley.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
For three quarters, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team was the equal of Spring Valley.
In the fourth quarter, fouls and turnovers weighed down the Panthers, causing them to tail off in a 59-46 loss at Spring Valley last Thursday.
Central finishes the regular season with a 2-20 record. The Panthers finished with a 2-14 record in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.
The Panthers were scheduled to begin WIAA Division 3 tournament action on Tuesday with a game at Unity. The winner of Tuesday’s game will play again on Friday at Barron. The Bears are the third seed in the sectional bracket. Unity is seeded sixth and Central is seeded 11th.
The regular season finale has the Panthers in a positive state of mind heading into the playoffs. In five of their final six games, the Panthers were competitive until the final minutes of each game. Panther coach Zach Turpin said the Panthers have developed strengths and they are getting closer in developing consistency.
“There are times when they do really nice things, just not a full four quarters,” Turpin said. “When we get into a half-court set defensively, we’re pretty competitive.”
The defense has been the backbone the Panthers are structured upon. They trailed Spring Valley 35-33 after three quarters on Thursday. The Panthers had led 33-32 until Spring Valley’s Ben Becker hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to propel the Cards into the lead.
It wasn’t until a tightly officiated game turned into a parade to the free throw lines in the fourth quarter that Spring Valley was able to extend the lead.
Spring Valley made 23-28 free throws in the game, while Central went 16-23 from the line. Central senior Danny Sukowatey was the wrong player for Spring Valley to foul. Sukowatey went 10-10 from the line, finishing with a team-high 19 points.
The fouls were part of Panthers’ undoing in the fourth quarter. Ethan Lindahl, Mike Nelson and D.J. Haas all fouled out early in the fourth quarter, meaning the other five players who saw game time had to finish the game for the Panthers.