St. Croix Central boys basketball faces tough Dunn-St. Croix Conference scheduleThere are some top quality basketball teams around the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and the St. Croix Central boys learned that firsthand last week.
There are some top quality basketball teams around the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and the St. Croix Central boys learned that firsthand last week.
The Panthers put up a good fight before losing at Mondovi 61-38 last Tuesday. Central’s boys hosted one of the most experienced teams in the conference last Friday and the vast difference in court experienced showed as Elk Mound smothered the Panthers 54-18.
There are stretches when the Panthers can play evenly with their opponents, but doing that consistently has been the team’s difficulty in the 0-4 start to the season.
The Panthers were ahead of Mondovi 11-9 after the first quarter last Tuesday, led by eight points from Damani Jones.
In the second quarter the Panther offense lost all confidence and was outscored 17-2 to trail 26-13 at halftime. The Panthers kept the margin within the 9-12 point range through most of the second half, but the drop-off in the second half was too great to make a recovery.
Jones, who moved into the Central district over the summer from Virginia, is already becoming a prime focus of opposing defenses. He finished Tuesday’s game with 18 points.
Very few of the Panthers have played at the varsity level before this season. Coach Zach Turpin said the players are still a bit tentative as they adjust to the speed of the varsity game.
“There’s potential here,” Turpin said. “The biggest thing now is having some confidence and doing things quicker than we’re used to doing.”
That played out against Elk Mound, a well-rounded team that gave the Panthers nightmares with its relentless defense. The Panthers had turned the ball over just 12 times against Mondovi, but Elk Mound was able to force the Panthers into 25 turnovers.
Turpin credited the Panthers with playing good defense on Friday, giving up only 54 points despite many of their turnovers being converted quickly into fastbreak points.
A bright spot in both games last week was the continued progress of senior post player Zach Lewis. He scored 10 points against Mondovi and eight points against Elk Mound. Lewis gives the Panthers a scoring threat in the paint and he also has the ability to shoot accurately from the perimeter.
The Panthers play at home this Thursday against Plum City, a team similar to the Panthers in that they have limited varsity experience. The Panthers will play at Glenwood City next Monday, making up an earlier postponement because both football teams had gone deep into the WIAA playoffs.