Elmwood's pace too much for St. Croix Central boys basketballThe Elmwood Raiders are one of the best small-school boys basketball teams in this area and the St. Croix Central boys found that out first-hand last Friday.
The Elmwood Raiders are one of the best small-school boys basketball teams in this area and the St. Croix Central boys found that out first-hand last Friday.
The Panthers didn’t play badly, but they didn’t have the firepower to compete with Elmwood, losing 65-37. The win raises Elmwood’s record to 8-1, while the Panthers slide to 2-7.
Elmwood is locked with Elk Mound and Colfax in a three-way battle for the Dunn-St. Croix Conference lead. Elmwood has lost at Elk Mound by five and has defeated Colfax, so the Raiders have already proven they can compete with the D-SC’s best. Elmwood has done this with an enrollment of 104 students.
“I’d expect them to go really deep into the playoffs in Division 5,” predicted Central coach Zach Turpin.
Turpin said his players put up a spirited effort against Elmwood, showing significant improvement from the team’s final games of December.
“There were stretches where we looked really sound on offense,” Turpin said. “There were stretches we played really well.”
It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that Elmwood was able to pull away from the Panthers. To that point it was a 6-8 point margin, but Elmwood’s offense caught fire and the Raiders finished with 42 points in the first half.
The Panthers have been hounded by illness the past two weeks and that carried into the game. Starting post player Tyler Lathe and reserve Brandon Sheffler were both out sick. Zach Lewis was the lone post player for much of the game, with the Panthers playing four guards. Freshman Doug Cottrell was brought up to be Lewis’ backup in the post and he scored his first four varsity points.
Lewis was a force in the first half, scoring 11 points. Elmwood made some defensive adjustments that prevented Lewis from scoring in the second half.
“It’s been a struggle to put 10 guys in uniform to practice,” Turpin said of the rash of illness that has hit the team.
He said Elmwood took advantage of the Panthers’ missing post players. The Panthers played strong initial defense, but Elmwood was able to score off numerous offensive rebounds.
This is an important stretch for the Panthers in their hopes of moving up toward the middle of the D-SC standings. They play three conference games in the next six days. On Thursday the Panthers play at Spring Valley. The Panthers will be at home on Saturday, facing Glenwood City in a 2:30 p.m. start. The Panthers will also play at home next Tuesday, facing Mondovi to start the second half of the conference schedule.