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St. Croix Central girls basketball looking for early positives

St. Croix Central guard Ella Scott (right) tries to drive past a Baldwin-Woodville defender during last Tuesday’s game.

Facing two defending conference champions to start the season is a grueling assignment for the St. Croix Central girls basketball team.

The first of those games was played last Tuesday when the Panthers drew Middle Border Conference champ Baldwin-Woodville. The Panthers struggled in the first quarter, falling behind 18-2. The Panthers then developed stability in their game, playing evenly with the Blackhawks in the final three quarters. The final score ended at 51-33.

The second of those daunting assignments comes this Thursday, when the Panthers play at Colfax, the defending Dunn-St. Croix Conference champion that finished second in the Division 4 state championships last winter.

B-W used a gripping press to build an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes of last Tuesday’s game. It took most of the first quarter to iron out their press break, but it showed significant progress as the game went on. The Panthers turned the ball over 27 times in the game, with most of the turnovers coming in the first half.

Central coach Luke Fritsche went into the game hoping to bring out positives in the Panthers’ play. He said there were a number of aspects the Panthers can build on. McKenzy Johnson scored 11 points, including hitting three three-pointers. Her outside shooting is a tool the Panthers are counting on.

The coaches believe they have a strong post tandem in Kayla Pabst and Emma Landry. Fritsche said the Panthers made some nice entry passes into the post, but they will need to do it more often for the offense to work at peak efficiency.

Fritsche saw beacons of hope in the play of guards Brooke Kopacz and Lauren Moll. Kopacz handled the ball well, with just two turnovers, and she showed a willingness to drive to the basket. Fritsche credited Moll with playing a strong defensive game against B-W leading scorer Maddie Kulow.

Moll led the Panthers with four steals. Landry’s three assists were tops on the team, as were her five rebounds.

After facing Colfax on Thursday, the Panthers will face another D-SC opponent next Tuesday, when they host Boyceville.

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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