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Trip to Pepin ignites St. Croix Central girls basketball's offense

Central’s Emma Landry, shown in a game earlier this season, was unstoppable at Pepin, finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

A trip to Pepin last Tuesday was the cure the St. Croix Central girls basketball team was looking for.

The Panther offense had an answer for every defense Alma-Pepin tried, with Central scoring a 57-35 win. The 57 points are one short of the Panthers’ high-point total of the season, which was a 58-point effort against Spring Valley.

This win was the result of a multi-faceted Panther attack, the kind of showing Coach Luke Fritsche has been looking for from the team. When Alma-Pepin played a man defense, Central got the ball inside to Emma Landry and Kayla Pabst. Their success forced Alma-Pepin to switch to a zone defense, and the outside shooting of McKenzy Johnson and Lauren Moll sank that idea.

Landry’s scoring had cooled off in recent games, but it was revived at Pepin. She hit 10-15 shots from the field to score a game-high 20 points. She also contributed six rebounds. She has accounted for at least five rebounds in every game this season.

Pabst scored eight points. Her biggest impact was rebounding, where she hauled in 12 caroms. In her past seven games, Pabst is averaging 10.1 rebounds.

With the post players leading the rampage, Central rolled up a 19-5 lead in the first quarter. By halftime the lead stood at 34-16.

The guards were just as impactful for the Panthers. Johnson rang up 16 points, including draining four three-pointers. Moll was the leader of the Panthers’ full-court pressure, which created a number of steals that the Panthers turned quickly into scoring chances. Moll scored nine points and led the team with five steals.

The early lead allowed Fritsche to use his bench players more liberally in this game. Junior Ella Scott led the bench’s contributions. She and point guard Brooke Kopacz shared the team lead with five assists.

This was the Panthers’ fifth win of the season and Fritsche said he saw a confident team on the court. He said this came a night after the Panthers gave another sharp performance in a 43-37 loss to Elk Mound.

“It was a real confidence-boosting game,” Fritsche said of the win.

The Panthers were scheduled to play last Thursday, but the game with Prescott was postponed due to the cold weather. It will be played on Feb. 10.

The next time the Panthers take the court will be this Friday when they play at Boyceville. The Panthers put up a strong showing in the first meeting against Boyceville, losing 43-36 in the third game of the season.

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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