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Panthers go big to get win

You’ve heard the saying “go big or go home.”

For the St. Croix Central girls basketball team last Thursday, it was “go big or go home without a win.”

After being held to four points in the first quarter by Elmwood, the Panthers decided to put their size advantage to work. The final result was the Panthers breaking the game open in a hurry with a 59-24 win.

Leading the offensive eruption for the Panthers was sophomore forward Emma Landry. She joined a rare group of players in Panther history to score 30 or more points in a game, ringing up 30 at Elmwood.

“She made it look easy and she only played two minutes of the fourth quarter,” said Central coach Luke Fritsche. “Emma just doesn’t miss a lot of layups.”

Elmwood decided to play a man-to-man defense, but Elmwood didn’t have any players who could match up against Landry or Panther center Kayla Pabst. Landry also had a game-high 12 rebounds and Pabst delivered 10 points and seven rebounds.

Elmwood doesn’t have a junior varsity team so the Panthers went right from the bus to getting ready to play. Fritsche said that change in routine may have accounted for the team’s sluggish first quarter, after which they trailed 6-4.

It wasn’t just the post players who caused the game to turn in Central’s favor. Central’s full-court press raised its intensity, stealing the ball 19 times in the game. That was led by junior guard Lauren Moll, who set a career-high with nine steals.

“She was pretty relentless,” Fritsche said. “Even though she didn’t score, she found other ways to contribute.”

Brooke Kopacz led the Panthers with four assists.

The games come fast and furious at the Panthers this weekend, but at least they won’t have to travel for any of them. The Panthers will be playing three home games in a five-day span starting on Friday. That’s when they host Glenwood City. They open next week with a game against Elk Mound on Monday and that’s followed by a collision with undefeated Colfax next Tuesday.