Big comeback carries Central girls to win
Winning at Mondovi has been nearly impossible for any Dunn-St. Croix Conference girls basketball team over the past decade.
The odds get even tougher when you trail the Buffaloes by 15 points at halftime.
The St. Croix Central girls have been overcoming the odds all season, and they did it again last Friday. The Panthers overcame that halftime deficit by outscoring the Buffaloes 22-6 in the third quarter. From there, the Panthers rolled to a 60-51 win over the Buffaloes.
Central coach Shannon Berg said the Panthers had played quite well in the first half, they just couldn't get shots to fall.
In the first 10 seconds of the second half, that all changed. Ella Olson nailed a three-pointer, then the Panthers got a steal and a quick hoop. The momentum had turned completely into Central's favor.
The shots that weren't falling in the first half were falling in the second half. But that was only half of the reason why the comeback was a success.
"It was the defense too," Berg said. "They knew we'd have to get some stops on defense." After Mondovi had scored 34 points in the first half, the Panthers cut that total in half during the second half.
The Panther defense produced 21 steals. Freshman Dani Brown stole the ball five times in the second half. Olson and Tracy Gillis each had four steals.
Rebounding was another area where the Panthers had a big advantage. Rachel Anderson hauled down 12 boards to lead a balanced effort.
The balance also scored in the point column, where Anderson, Gillis and Olson were all in double figures. Olson also had seven assists and Whitney Strickland supplied six assists.
The Panthers had a great start to the season, then slumped before Christmas, but now seem to be solidly back on the winning track.
"The kids are playing so well together," Berg said. "We're sitting in a real good position. In the four losses, three weren't at full strength, and now we've got everything back together."
Depth is another area that has strengthened the team. With Brown, Casey Kooiman and Cristina Holzer coming off the bench, the Panthers can go to the bench and not see a dropoff in the level of play.
This Friday the Panthers will face the best test of their improvement. The girls will host undefeated Colfax. The girls game Friday will be at 6 p.m., followed by the boys game at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers also face another stiff challenge next Tuesday, in a home game against Spring Valley.
St. Croix Central 60, Mondovi 51
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (60)
Gillis 4 3-6 13, Kooiman 0 0-0 0, Olson 4 0-0 10, Brown 2 0-2 6, Holzer 2 0-0 4, K.Brummer 1 5-13 7, R.Anderson 7 2-2 16, Strickland 1 1-2 4. Totals 21 11-25 60.
Kramschuster 1 2-4 4, J.Anderson 1 0-0 2, Moy 1 2-2 4, Johnson 3 0-0 8, Cheline 1 1-2 3, K.Nicastro 1 0-0 2, A.Nicastro 7 6-8 20, Bauer 3 2-3 8. Totals 18 13-19 51.
St. Croix Central 10 9 22 19 60
Mondovi 13 21 6 11 51
Three-point goals -- Gillis 2, Olson 2, Brown 2, Strickland, Johnson 2. Fouled out -- Olson, Kramschuster. Total fouls -- St. Croix Central 18, Mondovi 22.