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Spartans can't run with Central

Somerset senior guard Anna Rybacki (10) gets set to lead a fastbreak after pulling down a rebound in last Thursday's game at St. Croix Central. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

In its previous game, the Somerset girls basketball team sank 13 three-pointers.

The St. Croix Central girls weren't going to let that happen again when the two teams met Thursday, Jan. 4 at the St. Croix Central Middle School gym. The Spartans' outside shooting was shut down and Central used full-court defensive pressure to diffuse the rest of the Somerset attack, beating the Spartans 61-34.

This game was close for much of the first half, with Somerset trailing 22-17 with four minutes left in the half. Central then went on a 10-0 run, before the Spartans scored in the final seconds of the half, leaving the score at the break 32-19.

Any doubt on how the game would end was answered in the opening five minutes of the second half. Central's press was at full force as the Panthers opened the second half with a 17-0 run that left the Spartans far behind.

Somerset played most of the game using a zone defense. Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg said that was dictated by Central's athletes.

"They're good. We don't match up with them very well physically. The plan was to pack the paint and force them to shoot from outside," Lindenberg said.

He said parts of that plan worked well. One part that didn't was the Spartans' inability to corral St. Croix Central junior post player Claire Frankiewicz. She scored 22 points, with many of them coming after she grabbed offensive rebounds.

Central's defense was targeted at pressuring Somerset's top outside shooters, senior Tori Gareis and junior Georgia Hammer. That approach succeeded, with the Spartans limited to three three-pointers in the game. Two came in a row from freshman Rachel Gaikowski in the second half, ending Central's 17-0 scoring stretch.

Senior guard Anna Rybacki led the Spartans with eight points in the game. Freshman Dani Schachtner finished with eight points.

The Spartans will play their first home game of 2018 this Friday when they host Baldwin-Woodville. Somerset will travel to New Richmond next Tuesday for another Middle Border Conference game.

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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