Foul flurry buries St. Croix Central boys basketballFouls hit the St. Croix Central boys basketball team last Friday like a wind-whipped snow drift.
Fouls hit the St. Croix Central boys basketball team last Friday like a wind-whipped snow drift.
The Panthers had four more field goals than Boyceville in Friday’s game at Hammond. But Boyceville went 27-34 from the free throw line to overcome the Panthers 50-34.
The Central boys were playing their first game without leading scorer Damani Jones, who moved out of the school district the previous week. Central coach Zach Turpin said Jones had stated there was a possibility that he would be moving out of the district at the end of the school year, but the early move caught everyone by surprise.
“It’s a shame. He was doing very well for us and very well in school,” Turpin said.
Turpin said there will be an adjustment period, because the team had quickly grown to rely on Jones as its lead offensive threat.
“Everyone knew he could get to the basket and he was our most natural scorer,” Turpin said.
Turpin said he expects everyone on the team to help take up the scoring slack. Sophomore Jason Matteson scored 10 points, despite being in foul trouble, to lead the Panthers against Boyceville. Turpin said senior Brandon Booth “played with excellent energy” in Friday’s game. Booth finished with seven points.
The key factor in Friday’s game was the foul calls. Central was called for 22 fouls, putting Boyceville into the bonus early in both halves. Boyceville shot 34 free throws, compared to 12 by the Panthers. The Bulldogs made the fouls costly, making nearly 80 percent of their attempts.
“Our kids didn’t adjust to the officiating,” Turpin said. “It was a matter of us being a step slow. We’re not an overly physical team. For us to send somebody to the line 34 times was out of character for us.”
With Jones gone and sophomore guard Tony Berg out sick, the Panthers were already short-handed for Friday’s game. With Booth, Tyler Lathe and Brandon Sheffler fouling out, the Panthers’ bench was pretty thin by the end of the game.
Following Jones’ departure, sophomore Connor Lyksett was brought up from the junior varsity.
“He ended up playing a lot of minutes. He had to,” Turpin said.
The holiday break comes at an opportune time for the Panthers, who don’t play again until Friday, Jan. 4, when they travel to Elmwood. In those two weeks, Turpin said the team will make the adjustments it needs to be more productive in the second half of the season.