St. Croix Central girls basketball completes perfect MBC season
The smiles were huge as members of the St. Croix Central girls basketball team got to take their turn, cutting down a piece of the net last Thursday.
The Panthers were told they would get the chance to cut down the net if they finished as undefeated champions of the Middle Border Conference. And that's just what they did, thrilling a large Senior Night home crowd with a 66-47 win over New Richmond. With the win, the Panthers finish with a 14-0 record in the MBC and it raised their overall record to 20-2.
The focus for the Panthers now turns to the WIAA Division 3 playoffs, where they are the second seed in the regional tournament bracket. The high seed allowed the Panthers to get a bye in the opening round of playoff action. Central's first tournament game will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, in a home contest against the winner of Tuesday's game between Osceola (7) or Baldwin-Woodville (10). The winner of Friday's game will turn around right away and play in the regional final on Saturday night.
Last Thursday's win over New Richmond completes one of the most successful regular seasons in Panther basketball history. That Panthers had to overcome some adversity to win Thursday. Senior Mia Krogseng, the team's leading scorer, missed much of the first half after spraining an ankle in the opening minutes of the game. Even after she re-entered the game, when she was rested, she paced behind the Panther bench to make sure the ankle wouldn't stiffen up.
When she was back on the court, Krogseng was unstoppable. Despite missing most of one half, she scored 22 points.
"She played one of the best games I've ever seen her play," said Central coach Luke Fritsche.
While Krogseng was sidelined, the Panthers established the lead, holding a 32-24 advantage at halftime. Junior Claire Frankiewicz led that effort, scoring 14 of her 19 points in the first half, including the Panthers' first six points of the game.
Central's lead grew as high as 27 points in the second half. One reason the Panthers maintained a commanding lead was rebounding. Frankiewicz, Katherine Cottrell and Kolbi Juen all finished with seven rebounds as the Panthers made a concerted team effort to track down rebounds.
The win and the net cutting after the game made the night extra special for the team's seniors: Krogseng, Kalli Cress, Abby Edelman and McKenna Johnson.