St. Croix Central girls hang on, beat Plum City 31-29St. Croix Central’s girls basketball team is one of three teams tied for third place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.
St. Croix Central’s girls basketball team is one of three teams tied for third place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.
The Panthers were barely able to hang on for their second conference win last Friday, winning at Plum City 31-29 when Plum City’s shot at the final buzzer was waved off by the officials.
Three of the Panthers’ four games this season have come down to close finishes. The one exception was last Tuesday’s game against Elk Mound, when the Panthers skidded to a 53-26 loss.
Panther coach Luke Fritsche said the team is still searching to find its consistency. The Panthers have established three scoring threats in guards McKenzy Johnson and Laura DeSmith and post player Kayla Pabst, but the coaches are looking for more players who can contribute in the scoring column. No other player is averaging more than one point per game.
“Our defense has been very good, but we can’t continue to rely on it every game,” Fritsche said.
Fritsche said it was defense that won the game for the Panthers at Plum City. The Panthers were focused on stopping Plum City’s two top players and they were stellar in that effort, holding the Blue Devils’ leading scorers to a combined four points.
Desmith led the Panther offense by scoring 15 points at Plum City, including hitting several clutch free throws in the final minutes. Pabst scored six points but was in foul trouble much of the game. Kelly Harrington stepped in to give the Panthers solid play in the post.
Arinn DiSalvo led the Panthers with four assists.
“All four were big. They came at key moments,” Fritsche said.
The win at Plum City helped the Panthers erase the memory of Tuesday’s performance against Elk Mound. The Panthers started solidly, establishing Pabst as a scoring threat right away. But after Pabst scored seven points in the early going, she rarely got the ball in the post area the rest of the game.
“When we struggle, we don’t look (to get the ball) inside,” Fritsche said.
Pabst and McKenzy Johnson shared the Panther scoring lead with seven points against Elk Mound.
Elk Mound’s guards played a harassing defense that wore down the Panther ball handlers. By the second quarter the Panthers began turning the ball over frequently. DeSmith also drew her third foul in the second quarter, taking the Panthers’ most polished ball handler out of the game.
Central had no answer in trying to stop Elk Mound standout Josie Hayes. She finished with 23 points, many coming at the end of lengthy possessions where the Panthers had played solid defense for much of the time.
“You think you can slow her down, but she finds ways to score,” Fritsche said.
The next two games for the Panthers are non-conference contests against Middle Border Conference teams. The Panthers will play at Prescott on Thursday, before hosting Osceola next Tuesday.