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St. Croix Central boys basketball nearly upsets Plum City

It’s almost become a weekly event.

The St. Croix Central boys basketball team played another opponent right down to the wire, but just can’t finish off the win. That happened again on Friday, when the Panthers pushed Plum City to the final minutes, losing 47-43.

The Panthers are 1-9 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and 1-12 overall, but teams are learning they can’t be taken lightly. Mondovi, Spring Valley and Plum City are all teams in the upper half of the conference standings that Central has taken right to the wire.

“It comes down to knowing how to finish,” said Panther coach Zach Turpin, whose patience with his team never seems to waver.

Plum City is one of the few teams on the Central schedule that doesn’t hold a size advantage over the Panthers. Central’s post players took the opportunity to produce one of their best games of the season. Josh Freyholtz led the Panthers with 15 points and Josh Albright contributed 12 points and a team-high six rebounds. They were a combined 12-15 shooting from the field.

The 15 points is a career high for Freyholtz. Turpin said the junior is an asset the teams need to tap into more often.

“It was nice to see him play with that confidence. We need to get him the ball more often,” Turpin said.

While the post players were red hot, the Panthers’ perimeter players were ice cold.

Central led 20-19 at halftime of Friday’s game. The Panthers had one bad stretch in the third quarter where they turned the ball over on three straight possessions and Plum City scored off each of those turnovers. The Panthers never got the lead back.

An Elk Mound victim

Elk Mound is putting up some of the best defensive numbers of any team in the state. The Panthers found that out first-hand last Tuesday.

Elk Mound outscored the Panthers 38-6 in the opening half, en route to a 64-17 win over the Panthers. This raised the Mounders’ D-SC leading record to 10-0. The Panthers were the fourth straight opponent that Elk Mound held to single figures in the first half of a game.

Elk Mound’s 1-3-1 defense is quickly gaining a reputation as being impenetrable. The Mounders held Spring Valley, one of the best offensive teams in the D-SC, to two points in the first half in a recent game.

“We were really just outmanned by a better team,” Turpin said of the loss to the Mounders. “They’re very good at what they do.”

The Panthers were outscored 23-3 in the first quarter and 15-3 in the second quarter. Evan Nielsen hit two three-pointers in the game to lead the Panthers in scoring with six points.

The Panthers will face another high-powered offensive team this Thursday when they host Baldwin-Woodville in a non-conference game. The next D-SC game for the Panthers arrives 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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