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Large crowd inspires St. Croix Central girls basketball team

A large "Coaches vs. Cancer" crowd got to witness a thrilling performance by the St. Croix Central girls basketball team on Friday night.

The Panthers were clearly inspired by the large crowd, scoring 22 points in the first quarter against Plum City. The Panthers maintained a comfortable margin throughout the rest of the game to win 59-41.

This win assures that the Panthers will finish among the top four teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference this season. The win gave the Panthers a 9-4 conference record with three D-SC games left to play.

The Panther coaches came up with the idea to turn Friday's game into a fundraiser for Relay For Life. Panther coach Luke Fritsche said they sold 200 pink shirts and had a huge turnout of support at the game. Through everyone's support, they were able to raise $1,100. The goal was to have all the fans in attendance wear pink in honor of the cancer benefit.

"It was easily the biggest crowd for a girls game since I've been at Central," Fritsche said.

The girls played with incredible energy at the start of the game, rolling up a 22-10 lead in the first quarter.

The Panthers were buoyed by their outside shooting, which has been nearly unstoppable of late. Ashley Adkins, Nikki Brooks and Jordan Risberg combined to hit 10 three-pointers during Friday's game, with Adkins sinking five of them. Adkins and Risberg rank 1-2 in the conference in three-pointers made and three-point shooting percentage.

Adkins and Brooks combined for 40 points in Friday's game. Fritsche said the Panthers were moving the ball with quickness and purpose, which led to a number of open looks on the perimeter for the three-point shooters.

Post player Taylor Refsnider scored six points in the first quarter to help the Panthers get out to their quick start.

The Panthers were also winners in a home game against Elk Mound last Tuesday, notching a 45-42 win. Elk Mound banked in a three-pointer at the final buzzer to cut the margin to three points.

Elk Mound used full-court pressure, then a half-court trap, to keep constant pressure on the Panthers.

"We never had any breathing room. It was kind of a scramble," Fritsche said.

The Panthers were able to lead for most of the game, but the Mounders stayed right with them.

Again the three-point shooting was huge for the Panthers, with Risberg and Adkins each hitting three shots from beyond the arc. Risberg finished with a team-high 11 points and Adkins totalled 10 points.

Brooks amassed six rebounds, four steals and four assists, leading the Panthers in each of those statistical areas.

The Panthers now have 11 days between games. They don't return to action until next Tuesday, when they play at Colfax.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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