St. Croix Central boys basketball learns to deal with changeIt has been a winter of almost non-stop change for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team.
It has been a winter of almost non-stop change for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team.
Starting out as a very inexperienced team, then losing several key members of the team, has forced the Panthers to be adaptable. Through all of this change, the Panthers have learned to be resilient. And it is showing in their play.
Last Tuesday the Panthers hosted Mondovi, one of the leading teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. The Panthers gave the Buffaloes a 32-minute battle, with Mondovi pulling away in the final minutes for a 64-51 win.
The Panthers faced undefeated Elk Mound last Friday. The Panthers saw why the Mounders have been such a force this season, falling to the Mounders 58-24.
Panther coach Zach Turpin said the Mondovi game was a shining example that the team has learned and grown from everything that’s happened this season.
“It’s been constant turnover,” he said of the season. “Now they’re playing together and it’s giving them confidence.”
The Panthers were successful against Mondovi because they were aggressive in taking the ball to the basket. That was led by guard Tony Berg, who scored a career-high 15 points. And while the Panthers were on the attack on offense, they still managed to keep their turnover total low, giving the ball away just 11 times.
The Panthers trailed Mondovi 34-23 at halftime, but Mondovi’s lead stayed in the 7-9 point range through most of the second half. Turpin said the main difference in this game was experience. Most of Mondovi’s starters are juniors who have been starting together since they were freshmen.
Offensive balance was a key for the Panthers in this game. In addition to Berg’s 15 points, Zach Lewis scored 11, D.J. Holland scored nine and Doug Cottrell scored eight.
It would have taken a near perfect game for the Panthers to have kept pace with Elk Mound on Friday. The Mounders have pushed their record to 15-0. Elk Mound is an extremely tough match up for the Panthers, beginning with their 6-4 point guard and their 6-6 post player. The Mounders can go 10-deep without a dropoff in talent.
“They just do so many things well,” Turpin said. “They have six or seven guys who can score in bunches.”
The Mounders pounced on the Panthers in the first half, building a 33-5 halftime lead. Central stayed competitive in the second half, being outscored 25-19 in the half. Lewis was the main source of offense for the Panthers, scoring 13 of the team’s 24 points.
Turpin said the Panthers weren’t as aggressive on offense on Friday as they’d been against Mondovi. He said one of the next steps for the team is to learn to create their own shots when the ball movement isn’t providing open looks.
The Panthers will try to add to their win total this Thursday, when they play at Plum City. The Blue Devils have not won a game this season. The Panthers then get a week off, before playing at home on Friday, Feb. 1, against Colfax.