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St. Croix Central boys basketball continues to put up a battle

The Spring Valley boys basketball team can tell you that St. Croix Central's boys haven't given up.

The Panthers nearly upset Spring Valley in their regular season finale last Friday. The Panthers carried a lead into the fourth quarter, before their shooting went ice cold. That gave Spring Valley the opening to surge back for a 47-37 win.

Central led 33-32 entering the fourth quarter. The Panthers' showed good promise on offense. Sophomore Jason Matteson finished with 15 points and classmate Josh Albright scored nine points.

Albright is part of a group of promising young post players the Panthers have coming up in the system. Freshman Doug Cottrell has also shown that he can be productive at the varsity level. Panther coach Zach Turpin said there are two more post players on the junior varsity team who he thinks will have an impact in the future.

The younger post players have benefitted from having senior Zach Lewis starting in the post all season. Lewis has drawn the top post defender in each game, which has allowed the younger post players to work against players with comparable skill levels.

The inexperience on the Panther roster hasn't shown often this season, but it was exploited in the second half last Tuesday when the Panthers lost to Elmwood 76-35.

This game was closer than the final score would indicate. The Panthers trailed by 11 points midway through the third quarter, before Elmwood's talented guards put on an outside shooting clinic. The Raiders hit five three-pointers in the third quarter and they finished with nine for the game.

Matteson scored nine points for the Panthers. All his points came early in the game, with Elmwood setting its defense to deny him the ball the rest of the night.

The Panthers were scheduled to begin WIAA Division 3 regional tournament play on Tuesday with a game at Baldwin-Woodville. The Panthers are the 12th seed in the regional bracket and B-W is the fifth seed.